The Aura of Boxing
6 March - 31 March 2014
The Aura of Boxing is a new photographic study by Max Kandhola, into the aesthetic and moral conflicts of the boxer within the spatial interior of the pugilistic landscape.
Max Kandhola has been documenting boxers and their environment since 1996. This multi-site exhibition* marks the conclusion of the project and the launch of a new major publication on Max's practice by Dewi Lewis Publishing.
Kandhola photographed boxers at different weight divisions, amateur, professional, unknown boxers, contenders, champions and in the pursuit of the odyssey of the boxing journeyman. The Aura of Boxing intertwines between the boxer and their environment, at the peripheral Max followed three established boxers as a point of reference, which provides a legacy and provenance of boxing histories.
Julius Francis, a four-times British Heavyweight and Commonwealth champion, Kandhola first photographed in 2000 just before his fight with Mike Tyson; Howard ‘Clakka’ Clarke who fought at Madison Square Garden for the IBF Light Middleweight Title – he lost, after which his career significantly declined, with Howard winning only one fight out of his next seventy. He retired in 2007; Robert McCracken, who won the British Light Middleweight title in 1994 and the Commonwealth title in 1995 – currently McCracken is Performance Director for the British Olympic team, and personal coach to the current IBF and WBA super-middleweight champion Carl Froch.
The Aura of Boxing encapsulates Max's ability to research through the act of photography, using his camera as a means to explore and unveil the depths of life. In this collection the explicit representation of the traditional 'fight' is avoided; instead Max explores conflicts within the fighter. Kandhola focuses on the ring and the gym as spaces for preparation and meditation in an attempt to capture the boxers' aura in these moments of psychological intensity; the moments shortly before entering the ring and after leaving it, during which the boxer truly is vulnerable and yet often unnoticed.
Using boxing as a metaphor, Kandhola's research reflects upon the psychological gesture of performance in the sport, and the ritual of the individual boxers. In addition, the work documents the attempted flight from inner-city poverty that is common to many young boxers. Exploring how these athletes have been cocooned by the social pressures of the inner-city, Kandhola's work reveals the impact and presence of mind that manifests within this urban landscape, reflecting the politics of class and clan.
*Aura of Boxing will be launched at three venues in 2014. In addition to this show at Rich Mix, two other distinct exhibitions will be presented at New Art Exchange and Quad's Chocolate Factory. The research and development of Aura of Boxing has been made possible with generous support from Nottingham Trent University.