GALLERIES: MY SHADOW. MY OPPONENT
Kibera is the largest slum in Africa and found in Nairobi, Kenya. I live in Kenya though have spent little time shooting there. Kibera has always scared me because it is a monster few have been able to win over. A place this vast and overgrown with stories I felt could not be easily conquered photographically. I had been facing off with the place for a long time not knowing how to approach it. I needed a way in rather than to run headfirst and hope for the best.
I was attracted to boxing because it is a sport where you are not a part of a collective force when up against your opponent. You are a team but once you step up against your shadow the other faces have to fade until you know it is only you that can save yourself. At the day's end and the guards come down you begin to see that collective disassemble before your eyes. They disband from each other and then at once you have a room filled with individuals up against their own personal opponents for the first time.
Boxing also has a lonesome element to it. I like the stillness found it the most unlikely places. Stillness with certain mania below the surface. I think that there tends to be a somewhat “transcendental” quality to the way I saw the men in this environments sometimes and that became very clear the more I shot. I was not engrossed by action and a desire for lots of noise in the photos but rather the moments that feel that the subject has by his or her own emission left the scene. The moments in between. There was something meditative in their form. The glass that would fill their eyes after hours of hard training. Many of mental pictures from the boxing gym involve the boxers with their hands extended and eyes closed. Some of the guys are suspended within the confines of a beam of light or with their heads bowed. Man seemed to have been lost in reverie as boxers wrapped each other's hands with thin cloth to protect their knuckles. There is something very delicate and ceremonially about the action. They wore these withering pieces as if they were to be identified by them but only once inside their “house”.
I felt it all made sense.
I never wanted to show the boxers fighting an actual opponent.