Ben McNutt: Contend
Cultures are identified by feats of strength and icons. Societies are made up of people, parts, places, and passions. Wrestling is wonderfully ancient. Its aesthetics are expansive in practices and homes. Grappling such combat is filled with focus and gesture. The sport is varied in rule and method. History meets modern styles. Incorporated mythology is encapsulated by the photography of Ben McNutt. He is a wonderer of specifics and the geopolitics of the community his sport embodies. The patronage of wrestling is not lost on these images. Exercise and show expound great reliefs of activity and fair. Tournaments bring people together; they are every creed. The celebration of camaraderie and friendships is exposed beyond languages, something deeper forms in passions and drive.
McNutt’s imagery is curious. “What am I photographing?” He endeavors a prying eye and exquisite light. Flesh and sweat, smell. His images are social and complex in mystery. Who are these men? What are their goals? Zeus became the ruler of Earth after wrestling his father Cronus. There is a magical prowess lurking in the depths of bodies. People are glorious. They create something more than themselves, it floats in the air and attracts. McNutt is after that desire. Answers are in images and in the moment of capture it may be impossible to know exactly what anything is. Knowing is after things happen; this is when pictures get made. Clarity begets the uppermost layer of things that are finished. The joy is delving back into them once they’re made.
Feelings come together with surprises and informed imagery in McNutt’s work. The information of the pictures cries out to great colors and forms. The body beguiles new possibilities in extracted reform. The allure of elements transforms, things become sculptural and details feel illustrated. The document of wrestling goes back fifteen thousand years, drawings on walls, French, Babylonian, Egyptian reliefs. McNutt’s work moves amongst rich histories and adds new breath and possibility. What’s said is as much about the body as it is about the ideals these men uphold. They are beautiful and unusual. Athleticism is incorporated, but isn’t completely necessary to appreciate. The layers are parts, conversations move, quiet and together.
Wrestling is a thing of local folklore and international organization. Great homes, institutions, and collections raise the platform of these icons for a multitude of reasons. Styles are free and amateur, bodies brawl on beaches and mattes with oils on flesh. Singlets and earguards cup and protect. Little eccentricities and personalities individualize the regalia and are unmistakable to wrestling itself. The form of a man is exciting, but all contacts between individuals kindle desires and impressions of the world around them. Ben McNutt is of the world and the photographs are too. Bonds of trust and citizenry populate. In scale and security the significance of sport becomes more than show.
Ben is currently preparing for a trip to photograph Turkey’s annual Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling Tournament which began in 1346. Please take a minute to consider some of his original merchandise and art by clicking here. The proceeds help go towards supplies and materials to make this trip and new body of work possible. To see more of Ben McNutt’s work click here.