Before and After the Fight

For his project and book, 141 Boxers, Nicolai Howalt photographed teenage amateur boxers in Denmark immediately before and after their first entry into the ring. Each portrait is made in direct light with a neutral background, and when they’re displayed in a grid on a gallery wall, they form a massive typology of young fighters—their developing game-faces clean and composed on the left, bludgeoned and sweaty on the right. They’re striking not just in the transformations that occur, but in the subtle variations that can be seen across each fighter. Did this boy win the fight? Did he lose? Is he proud? Terrified? There’s also a menacing element to this work, and a certain Aryan creepiness factor at play when the viewer is confronted with a wall of overwhelmingly blond and blue-eyed youths, all of whom have just participated in a violent act we’re more likely to associate with grown-ups. (via)