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Charles Fairbanks [Videonale.14]

*1979 in Lexington/Nebraska, USA, lives and works in Northern California, USA, Mexico City, MEX Minneapolis, USA, Ann Arbor, USA and Brussels, BEL
Studied at Stanford University, USA and at University of Michigan, School of Art & Design, USA


Exhibitions [selection]: 


2012 The Space Between Our Selves, Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, Kansas City, Missouri, USA
         Tender Muscles: five films by Charles Fairbanks, CONCORD, Los Angeles, California, USA
2011 Wrestling with my Father, Deluge, Victoria, CAN
         Tender Muscles: five films by Charles Fairbanks Anthology Film Archives, New York, USA
         Luchando sobre los roles de género, SOMA, Mexico City, MEX
2010 Flexing Muscles, 2739 Edwin, Detroit, Michigan, USA




Charles Fairbanks [Videonale.14] x

Flexing Muscles, 2012, 21 min., sound, colour [Videonale.14]

“Flexing Muscles” has its origins in observations of Lucha Libre, a Mexican form of professional wrestling in the 30s, which Charles Fairbanks made during his time in Mexico as a photographer. That Lucha Libre is more than just an ordinary wrestling show is made clear by the description of this sport as a mass phenomenon whose practice is deeply rooted in Mexican society. This short film in the style of a documentary highlights the popularity of these fighters who, regardless of the way they are admired in their communities, still have to go about their daily work in order to earn their living. The two contrasting worlds of show-fighting and earning their livelihood have physical labour in common. The artist shows the fighters’ two spheres of life, in their daily jobs and masked in their fantasy roles, one after the other. In the final sequence the viewer is given a completely new view of the contests when the artist himself takes part as a competitor. The use of a camera fixed to Fairbanks’ mask makes possible a perspective which shows the untouched reality close up. The final point-of-view-shots allow the viewer to look through the eyes of El Gato Tuerto, a figure created by the artist specially for this film.

Miriam Cockx

Charles Fairbanks