Patrick Sopko



Neither Confirmed nor Denied: MFA 2015

SUArt Galleries

April 2 – May 10, 2015


Artist Statement

Boxing pays homage to physicality–challenging the body, the brain, and especially the ego. Viewed as a traditional proving ground, the boxing ring is a place where masculinity is tested and asserted, underlying a collective understanding of what it means to be a man. In particular, young fighters embody this perceived notion that manliness is accompanied by toughness. Inside the gym, a violent co-mingling of blood and sweat creates a commonality found only through this primal struggle. As a sport, boxing’s relevance in popular culture has waned. Yet, the iconography of the boxer remains a constant–a perfection of form, a champion, an idealized version of manhood defined by brute force.

These photographs capture the transient nature of burgeoning masculinity through the framework of amateur boxing. The images isolate the fighter, much as he is in the confines of the ring. The composition, performativity of poses, lighting, and elemental colors serve as cues to draw the viewer into this domain. There is an implied intimacy in these images; the proximity between subject and maker creates a contemplative environment of self-awareness and vulnerability. Embedded within this work are glimpses of tensions and truths, an invitation to explore the tenuous nature of the proverbial “coming of age.”