Both Members of This Club






Rhett Giddins vs Braydon Knight, BELIEVE 120, 16 April 2016, Orlando (I Believe in Wrestling)

I believe professional wrestling, like movies, television, pop music, and graffiti, can be art, though the vast majority is as expendable as the foil wrapping a candy bar. The chiaroscuro effect of Giddins vs Knight, constructed of low-key lighting, skin tones, and wrestling gear, reminds me of a cleaned-up version of George Bellows' 1909 painting Both Members of This Club, which also makes race central to its composition without making a definite sociopolitical statement (except for the irony of its title at a time when Blacks were barred from most clubs).

Like the painting, the video emphasizes triangulation both in its viewpoint (usually a direct shot of the ring corner with ropes widening towards the camera) and, dramatically, the presence of the ref hovering close to the two combatants. Many of the holds reinforce this composition. I suspect most of this is unintentional, but I'd argue it still adds to the video's aesthetics and effect. Both bodies, dark and light, are in stark contrast to the pitch black of the background. The limited color palette focuses attention on the action, which entails dramatic conflict and, ultimately, a show of respect.

Warning: the GIFs below include a spoiler. Again I want to thank my friend Jim in Nashville for pointing me towards this video on YouTube. It's short (just a little over six minutes), but it crackles, thanks to the fitness of Giddins and Knight, the invisible segues between attacks, and the spirited competition. 


















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