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Roger Ballen

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TIME Photo Department

TIME LightBox presents our monthly round-up of the best books, exhibitions and ways to experience photography beyond the web—from the Steve McCurry exhibition in Colorado and the 55th Venice Biennale to Roger Ballen’s ‘Portraits from South Africa’ in Los Angeles and the Belfast Photo Festival.

‘The Guide’ on LightBox will be published monthly. If you have submissions or suggestions for upcoming round-ups of the best books and exhibitions, feel free to pass them along via email before June 15. We’ll also be updating this gallery throughout the month.

See the previous editions of The Guide:

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In July 2012, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (MOCA) asked me to compile a playlist of videos directed by photographers for their new online series, MOCAtv. Launched last week, MOCAtv bills itself as the “Global Contemporary Art Channel,” providing a wide range of content related to the arts. Looking to see if photographers’ skills translated into music videos was one of the most enjoyable commissions I have ever had.

My personal interest in music videos is mainly autobiographical. I was a teenager in the 1980s—the heyday of the music video. Videos were crucial to bands’ identity; it was really the only way, apart from photography, that an image was disseminated to the world. MTV was the dominant force, but if you grew up in Britain, it was the quaintly titled BBC show Top of the Pops that was one of the only ways to see them.

Looking back at these videos has evoked amazing memories, but at times, I view some videos with a new perspective and appreciate them now because of who made them and how they look. For example, the mesmerizing Addicted to Love by Robert Palmer was always incredible – but now that I know it was directed by the great British fashion and portrait photographer Terence Donovan, all I can see are the similarities to his later photographs of the 1980s with their strong, almost aggressive, female glamour.  It’s interesting to note where the photographer’s hand is so apparent and successful, and elsewhere, when they lose something of their signature flair by having a moving camera instead of a still shot.

Like many, my introduction to music came via my older brother. Always one step ahead of me, he had very sophisticated taste. My first concert was Souxsie and the Banshees when I was 14. Somehow I managed to persuade him (and more miraculously my parents) that I should go along with him and a gang of heavily hair-sprayed goths. It was not the music that I particularly remember, but the amazing beauty of this particular strand of post punk music. From that moment I was addicted to live concerts and the performance of dressing up.

I knew about New Order due to my brothers liking of Joy Division. I saw them perform that summer and their shortened remix of Blue Monday (1988) is like a backing track to those heady months, which were incredibly hot and renamed by many of my contemporaries as ‘the summer of ale.’ I was 18.

When I was asked to put this playlist together I couldn’t believe that I had never seen the video. I was so delighted that it was done by William Wegman. It is full of lovely references for me. Wegman is an artist who manages to have conceptual credibility and respect in the art world and also make calendars with puppies. I can’t think of any one else who manages such success in both commercial and art worlds with such ease and lack of compromise on either side. His ABC video Alphabet Soup featuring Fay, Batty, Chundo and Crooky is my favorite gift to all new parents; my daughter’s go-to bedtime book is Wegmonolgy and my brother has Weineramas. It’s like all good things in my life are condensed into this one video.

A year after Blue Monday, New Order released Run and asked Robert Frank to direct it. This video combines many different kinds of video techniques into one film. It has both live footage and a narrative. It also uses still photographs many times. Nothing is really explained but it has that coldness, disconnect and mystery which is so crucial to a Frank photograph. The song is not the strongest, but you are held utterly by the video. The ending is pure Frank: it stops on a still photograph where everyone is looking in different directions and the scene is chaotic but happy. In two takes he goes closer in to the black-and-white photograph with a woman clutching a book titled listen to god. About two seconds of existential anxiety almost lost as the song fades out.

Staying in the 1980s is Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game, directed by Herb Ritts. This song, which came out in 1989, was reinserted into popular culture when it was used in a scene of Wild at Heart by David Lynch. The video is trademark Ritts. The female body (Helena Christensen) is Amazonian—sexy, strong and very much associated with the 1980s before the AIDS crisis (although of course the AIDS crisis had very much gripped huge swaths of society by this time). It’s crisp, clean and erotic. He shoots from many angles so the body, although always sensuous, can also become abstracted. This photographic technique, which Ritts has become so famous for, was most eloquently played out in a photograph of five of the most famous supermodels gathered together naked (Stephanie, Cindy, Christy, Tatjana, Naomi, Hollywood, 1989) their limbs lending graphic strength and dynamism to the composition of the picture.

Die Antwoord, I Fink U Freeky directed by Roger Ballen (2012) practically went viral among photography circles recently. The video starts with “Die Antwoord in Association with Roger Ballen.” This is the first time I have seen musicians and the director on equal footing, especially when the band has a much bigger global presence than the photographer.

Ballen has lived and worked in South Africa for most of his life. His work is a swirling mix of reality, fantasy, documentary and personal investigation. He photographs in the poorest white areas of South Africa, and his work is immediately recognizable for its disturbing almost nihilistic qualities, which are confusing in terms of ethics and morals of representation. This video is like a zooped up, hammy musical journey through his work and is so well suited to the band, who have a trickster element to them. They are the perfect artistic combination.

Another South African photographer, Pieter Hugo, has directed Spoek Mathambo, Control which was originally recorded by Joy Division and has again been introduced to a younger generation through the biopic of Ian Curtis in the film Control by Anton Corbijn (who has also done a large number of music videos). Again this has similar elements to the Ballen video in that reality has been pushed to appear fantastical. Of all the videos selected it is the most ‘photographic,’ and you can really see Hugo’s skill in using backdrops to create scenes. If you were to go through freeze framing it each scene could work beautifully as a photograph. It reminds me of his Nollywood series about the horror film industry in Nigeria. For this he took costumed actors and put them into the street causing a tension between reality, fantasy, horror, staging and theater. This video has all of those elements and similar references to the genre, but was filmed in a township in Cape Town. It’s the best cover of Control I have ever heard, making it absolutely belong here in South Africa and not the North of England.

Music videos act as lightening rods to memories. Headier than photographs they possess the most potent Proustain links to the past. When they are at their very best, like the ones I have mentioned here, they are like stills come to life. Photographers can offer a particular way of looking at the world. When that coincides with a similar musical vision the results can be spectacular.

Susan Bright is a New York-based writer and curator. You can see more of her work here

View more of MOCAtv’s programming on their YouTube channel.

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Maki Maki

Welcome 2 My Room

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Internet is reachable by millions of people each second. They can communicate with each other, and sometimes very private things are told and shown on internet blogs through photos, videos, writings. Although initially it was not intentioned, this is what I experienced with this series called “Welcome 2 My Room”.

Usually, to take a photograph, you have to be physically in front of the person you want to shoot with your camera. It all changed on the internet with chats, webcams and other ways to meet virtually the image of people on the screen of your computer. In this photo work I experienced a new way to take photographs by taking, with an analog polaroid camera, portraits on my computer screen, chatting live with sex workers through their webcams.

The starting point of this series of photo portraits was the discovery of a website in the Philippines. A peep show with chat and webcam. Girls and boys working at home alone, or several persons together in so called “studios”. Omnipresence of precarity. At that time they were more than 300, now there are twice as much…

Sometimes links are created, other times it’s “just business”. All those gazes, those stories intersecting, including mine…

I started taking pictures of them with my old polaroid camera on my computer screen. I used to shoot people I meet, so why not do it by computer screen interposed. Sometimes the exchanges and discussions are intense. Laying bare the feelings, the lives, the bodies… Sincerity encounters with cunning. But of course there’s the money. They will do anything to make you pay. But sometimes on the spot of our conversations, emotion overwhelms… Tears of blood…

Finally thousands of polaroid snapshots (and also some black and white roll films) were taken in my bedroom in front of my computer screen during the highlights of our conversations or private shows…Trying to give a face to sex… As always image rule as a unique weapon… We play with it, we come with it …

 

Bio

Born and living in Marseille (France) since 1964.

He studied photography at the beginning of the 80s and is into photography since then. In 2000 he turns towards a more experimental and intimate photography.

He’s participated in solo and group photo exhibitions in Europe and Japan, and been published in exhibition catalogs, record covers, art magazines, books…

Actually he’s working on a series about Japan called “Japan Somewhere”. Some photos of this series will be published in December 2012 inside the photobook “MONO” about contemporary black and white photographers, edited by Gommabooks together with other photographers such as Antoine d’Agata, Daido Moriyama, Anders Petersen, Roger Ballen, Trent Parke…

Since 2007 he is founding member of the Collective of European photographers SMOKE.

In 2010 he created Média Immédiat Publishing, a book collection actually composed of 9 mini photobooks including photographers like Morten Andersen, Ed Templeton, Onaka Koji, Jukka Onnela, Daisuke Ichiba.

 

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A new book, Photographs Not Taken, conceived and edited by photographer Will Steacy compiles personal essays written by more than 60 photographers about a time when they didn’t or just couldn’t use their camera.

The book, released by Daylight, is a fascinating compilation by a wide cross-section of image makers from around the world and is often filled with thoughts of regret, restraint and poignant self-realizations.

On the eve of the one-year anniversary of Tim Hetherington’s tragic death in Misrata, Libya, we present one of the most eloquent chapters from the book, in which the photographer offers his thoughts on depicting the dead in photographs and the questioning moment he had after making a picture of a dead soldier in Afhganistan:

There are many reasons not to take a picture—especially if you find the
 act of making pictures difficult. I was not brought up with a camera, I
 had no early fascination for pictures, no romantic encounters with the 
darkroom—in fact I didn’t become a photographer until much later on 
in life when I came to realize that photography—especially documentary 
photography—had many possibilities. One thing for sure was that
 it would make me confront any inherent shyness that I might feel. It
 did, but I still find making pictures difficult, especially negotiating and 
confronting “the other,” the subject, and dealing with my own motivations
 and feelings about that process.

This personal debate about making pictures was particularly apparent 
during the years I lived and worked in West Africa. In 2003 I lived as one 
of the only outsiders with a rebel group that was attempting to overthrow 
then-President Charles Taylor. It was a surreal experience—cut off
 and living in the interior of the country, I accompanied a rag-tag army 
of heavily armed young men as they fought their way from the interior 
forest into the outskirts of the capital, Monrovia. Reaching the edges of
the city was an exhilarating experience after weeks of living in a derelict 
front-line town with little food. At one point, the rebels took over the
 beer factory and, after liberating its supplies, turned part of the facility 
into a field hospital where people with gunshot wounds were treated 
with paracetamol. Outside the factory compound lay about five bodies 
of people who, from the look of things, had been executed. A number 
had their hands tied behind their backs and most had been shot in the
 head and, despite the graphic nature, I had no qualms about making 
some photographs of these people.

Not long after, government forces counterattacked to push the rebels out 
of the city. Everyone was exhausted from the lack of sleep and constant 
fighting, and the retreat quickly turned into a disorganized scramble
 to get out of the city. Soldiers commandeered looted vehicles, and I 
even remember one dragging a speedboat behind it in the stampede 
to escape. To make matters worse, government soldiers were closing in
on the escape route and began firing from different directions on the 
convoy of vehicles. One rocket-propelled grenade took out a car behind
ours, and at one point we abandoned our vehicles and took shelter in a
nearby group of houses. I began seriously considering abandoning the rebels and heading out on my own toward the coastline on foot, but luckily thought better of it and got back inside the car with the group I was with.

The road slowly wound its way away from the low-slung shacks of
 the suburbs and back into the lush green forest. Our close-knit convoy 
started to thin a little as some cars sped out ahead while others, laden 
with people and booty, took their time. The landscape slid by as I tried
 to come down and calm my mind from the earlier events—I was in a
 heightened state of tension, tired, hungry, and aware that I was totally 
out of control of events. Just as I started to feel the euphoria of being
 alive, our car slowed in the commotion of a traffic jam. A soft-topped 
truck up ahead that was carrying about 30 civilians had skidded as it
 went around a corner and turned over on itself. A number of people 
had been killed and wounded—probably having the same thoughts of 
relief that I had before calamity struck. Now they were dead and their 
squashed bodies were being carried out from the wreckage. Someone 
asked me if I was going to photograph this—but I was too far gone to be
able to attempt any recording of the event. I couldn’t think straight, let 
alone muster the energy needed to make a picture. I just watched from 
a distance as people mourned and carried away the dead. My brain was
 like a plate of scrambled eggs.

There isn’t much more to add, but I always remember that day and the 
feeling of being so empty—physically, mentally, and spiritually—that it
 was impossible to make the photograph.

Years later, when I put together a book about those events in Liberia, I
 included a photograph of one of the people who had been killed outside 
of the beer factory. I thought it was an important picture but didn’t
 dwell on what it might mean for the mother of that boy to come across 
it printed in a book. My thoughts about this resurfaced recently as I put
 together a new book about a group of American soldiers I spent a lot of 
time with in Afghanistan. They reminded me a lot of the young Liberian 
rebel fighters, and yet, when I came to selecting a picture of one of their
 dead in the battlefield, I hesitated and wondered if printing a graphic 
image was appropriate. It was an image I had made of a young man 
shot in the head after the American lines had been overrun—not dissimilar
 from the one in Liberia. My hesitation troubled me. Was I sensitive
 this time because the soldier wasn’t a nameless African? Perhaps I had 
changed and realized that there should be limits on what is released 
into the public? I certainly wouldn’t have been in that questioning position 
if I’d never taken the photograph in the first place….but I did, and 
perhaps these things are worth thinking about and confronting after all.

—Tim Hetherington

Tim Hetherington (1970-2011) was a British-American photographer and 
filmmaker. His artwork ranged from digital projections and fly-poster exhibitions to handheld-device downloads. Hetherington published two monographs, Long Story Bit by Bit: Liberia Retold (Umbrage Editions, 2009), 
and Infidel (Chris Boot, 2010). His Oscar-nominated 
film Restrepo, about young men at war in Afghanistan, was also released in 2010.
 Tragically, Hetherington was killed while covering the 2011 Libyan civil war.

Photographs Not Taken also features work by Roger Ballen, Ed Kashi, Mary Ellen Mark, Alec Soth, Peter van Agtmael and many others. More information about the book and how to purchase it is available here

On April 22, 2012 from 2:00-4:00pm, MoMA PS1, located in Queens, NY, will host a a panel discussion with contributors Nina Berman, Gregory Halpern, Will Steacy, Amy Stein, moderated by Daylight founders Michael Itkoff and Taj Forer.

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Last December, Gomma publishers—a small imprint in London with a magazine by the same name, or what founder Luca Desienna calls a “bijou” publishing house—set out to find the most exciting new talent working in black and white photography today. To begin the process they assembled an international panel of experts and curators from around the world that included Christian Caujolle, Yasmina Reggad, Peggy Sue Amison, Tom Griggs, Wayne Ford, Jörg Colberg and John Matkowsky to create a new publication called MONO. The fundamental idea for the new publication was to expose emerging talent to a wider audience by publishing them alongside more established artists pushing the boundaries of the medium, such as Roger Ballen, Daido Moryiama, Anders Petersen, Trent Parke and many others.

“Gomma was formed in 2004 by four friends and artists aspiring to create a new publishing space for photographers,” says Desienna. ”Our major inspirations were the influential Japanese magazine Provoke from 1968 and Permanent Food by Maurizio Cattelan. Since the first days of Gomma we’ve been always publishing black and white photography—it is and always will be one of the most extraordinary art forms that enables us to document the world we live in … and also what is beyond it or underneath it.”

This year’s winners of the MONO open call for entries are: Daisuke Yokota, Maki, Tricia Lawless Murray, Francesco Merlini, Jan von Holleben, Jukka-pekka Jalovaara, Sofia Lopez Mañan and Stephane C. Their work will be featured in the first edition of MONO to be released this fall.

Desienna says there has been a renaissance among the image makers working in black and white. “With the advent of digital photography, taking pictures has become sort of more accessible for everyone,” he says. “While black and white photography, which is often associated with analogue photography, has become rarer and rarer. Agfa collapsed, and films and chemicals started disappearing, so as it happens with anything that gets near to extinction, it just becomes more valuable.” At the same time, Desienna says great new digital, black-and-white photography has added to the exquisite and timeless world that monochrome images create. “We don’t see the world in black and white so this is probably why we are so attracted to it,” he says. “In addition I believe that black-and-white photography has the capability to show the inner moods of the photographers better than colors do.”

For more information visit Gomma Books and check out Gomma Magazine online.

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Marc Shoul

Brakpan

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Brakpan is a small town that lies on the East Rand of Gauteng, sandwiched between Boksburg, Benoni and Springs. A once-prosperous mining community, today there are pawnshops, roadhouses, mechanics, mini casinos and other day-to-day shops lining the two main roads that slice through the town. Brakpan is like going back in time; so many aspects of the town remind me of old images I have seen of South Africa. Despite all the changes in nearby Johannesburg, Brakpan still goes about its business in much the same way it did before.  There is a lack of modern development. You don’t see Tuscan townhouse complexes or buildings with glass facades. It’s all very simple and straight forward – almost transparent, and this transparency can be seen in the people too. You won’t find any airs or graces, no fancy cappuccino shops, sushi cafes or organic goods in Brakpan.

The town does not seem to have benefited from its gold rush glory days, which spanned between 1911 until the mid 1950’s, and it now has very little to show for its’ past. Today, the once flourishing mining town only pulls out a small portion of gold compared to what it used to generate, and some disused gold mines now only sell rubble.

A second factor that has contributed to Brakpan’s sense of preservation is the development of Carnival Mall and Casino, which conveniently lies just off the highway a few kilometers away from Brakpan Central. All the major chains and retail shops have moved to the mall and, as a result, the town centre has been left untouched and undeveloped, stunting it economically and leaving its inhabitants with little opportunities.

And yet there are many faces to modern Brakpan. Young girls push prams while karaoke competition winners don’t get their promised prizes. Pirated DVD’s get sold on the streets, crippling the nearby video shops that rent out older movies. There is a sense of nostalgia that remains and is reflected in the buildings and in the people. This is a place where you can still enjoy school and church fete’s, rugby matches, old bars, sokkie jols, biker rallies, fishing and braaiing at the Brakpan Dam; all of which are a part of the local’s lives.

Here there is a peacefulness and relaxed country town feel, without the stress about what tomorrow may bring.  The people of Brakpan live in the now but are still bound by the constraints of the past.

The images presented here are printed on Multigrade V1 FB Fibre matt photographic paper. Exhibition prints are 40cm by 40cm in size in an edition of 10.

Bio

Marc Shoul lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was born in 1975 in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa and graduated (with honors in photography) from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in 1999. Since then, he has had several exhibitions of his work including group shows at the Arts Association of Bellville, Fusion (1999), Artscape, Mental Health, (2001) Cape Town, Month of Photography, Detour, (2002), Cape Town, Photo ZA, Obsess (2004) and Resolution Gallery, Faces (2008) in Johannesburg as well as at the World Health Organization TB exhibition in India (2004). Solo exhibitions of ‘Beyond Walmer’ were held by the Association of Visual Arts Gallery in Cape Town (2000) and Natal Society of Arts, Durban (2001).  “Flatlands” a solo exhibition was also held at the Association of Visual Arts in Cape Town (2009) with help from the National Arts Council. Shoul was also featured in the AGFA Youth International Photojournalism Publication 1999. He also reached the finals of the Absa L’Atelier 2009.  Flatlands showed at KZNSA in Durban, South Africa and Galerie Quai 1 in Vevey, Switzerland in 2010. Shoul was invited to hold a workshop at the Vevey School of Photography on the 2010. Shoul was also been included in After A at the Report Atri Festival, Italy, June 2010 curated by Federica Angelucci. Beyond Walmer is on show at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum June-August 2010. Brakpan (work in progress),Shoul has also been included in the Bonaini Africa 2010 Festival of Photography, Cape Town Castle of Good Hope and Museum Africa, Johannesburg. Brakpan (work in progress) was included in 10 a group exhibition at the PhotoMarket Workshop, Johannesburg, 2010. Brakpan in 2011 won the 1st prize at the Winephoto.

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum added “Beyond Walmer” to its permanent collection (2007).

For the last ten years, Marc has worked for various local and international magazines such as Time, Colors, Wired, Blueprint, Dazed and Confused, Design Indaba, World Health Organization, Mother Jones, Stern, Gala, De Spiegel, Financial Times Magazine, Monocle, Smithsonian and The Telegraph Magazine, He has also shot for many advertising clients and agencies.

He has recently completed a project named ‘Flatlands’ in the Johannesburg inner city.  He is now working on a new body of work in Brakpan on the East Rand where he is exploring the city’s way of life and its people.

He is interested in exploring theams of social relevance and changes within his country and further a field.

Shoul works largely in black and white, using a medium format film camera and natural light printed on Fiber photographic paper.

 

Related links

Marc Shoul

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Russia’s presidential elections came after a season of protests for fair elections, and Vladimir Putin enters a new term in which he will have to confront unrest among the public, accusations of corruption and calls for modernization.

Among that outspoken public is Russia’s youth, a group Swedish photographer Stefan Bladh captured in the summer of 2011 in Kaliningrad. The city of Kaliningrad is not unlike most places in Russia today: plagued by poor social programs, low paying jobs and widespread unemployment. “Life is obviously hard here,” the photographer says. “Corruption is widespread, even up to the Kremlin, everybody is aware of that. The phrase ‘I take care of my business, and you take care of yours’ seems to be prevalent. The remains of the old Soviet system still exist. Better submit than to fight with authorities. Keep quiet about politics.”

During his summer in Kaliningrad, Bladh heard many stories from friends who weren’t being paid for their work, including a young woman who hadn’t been paid for three months. She has yet to complain to her boss over fears of retaliation.

“The years with Putin, according to many critics, have been a major setback for the country,” Bladh says. “Regime critics say that 12 more years with Putin will mean stagnation, a disaster.”

But that resulting pessimism is limited to those who have crossed the “invisible boundary” of 25 years of age, according to the photographer. Those beyond that line have no hope for their country, he says. On the other hand, the young Russians remained positive. They were eager to stop and talk to Bladh, who had trouble engaging with older people on the street. The young people wanted to have their portraits taken and discuss the future. ”The hope for having a good life here is still alive,” says Bladh.

Stefan Bladh is a Stockholm-based photographer. See more of his work here.

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The grim factory towns of the Ural Mountains, such as the outpost of Kurgan along the Trans-Siberian Railroad, are among the only places left in Russia where Prime Minister Vladimir Putin could still count on the people’s firm support. The air tastes metallic here from the belching smokestacks, and most of the workers are massed in crumbling apartment blocks left over from the Soviet Union. But life is predictable, the average wage is enough to get by and the locals are grateful to Putin for that.

So his bid to win a third term as president—which he won on March 4—focused on places like Kurgan, which he visited on Feb. 13 to tour a provincial school. It was a safe place for a campaign stop, far away from Russia’s biggest cities, where the vibrant middle class has begun to protest by the tens of thousands to call for an end to Putin’s 12-year rule. Outside of School No. 7 in Kurgan, he was greeted by a crowd of supporters who waited for four hours in the freezing cold to have a glimpse of the man they call “our leader,” or sometimes even, “the czar.” Such towns are still home to the vast majority of the Russian population, and they were likely the ones who handed Putin a mandate to rule for six more years. The middle class will then need to wait to see much political change.

Simon Shuster is TIME’s Moscow reporter. Follow him on Twitter @shustry

Yuri Kozyrev is a contract photographer for TIME and was just named the 2011 Photographer of the Year in the Pictures of the Year International competition.

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Peter Hapak photographed the contenders for the women’s U.S. Olympic team for this week’s issue of TIME. The gallery above includes additional images of the fighters in action.

Boxing has always been an Olympic sport. The ancient Greeks wrapped their fists in leather strips in the 7th century B.C. In the modern Games, gold medals have launched the sport’s greatest figures: Floyd Patterson, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Oscar De La Hoya all made their first appearance on the world stage with a victory in the Olympics.

This summer in London, the XXX Olympiad will present a historic debut. For the first time, female boxers will compete. It’s been 19 years since a teenage girl named Dallas Malloy went to U.S. federal court to win the right for women to participate in amateur boxing. Now Americans are fighting their way toward the first U.S. Olympic women’s boxing team. Just getting to London will be a tough fight. For these boxers, this Olympics is limited, a test run. Only 36 women in the world will be allowed to compete in three weight divisions: flyweight (112-lb. limit), lightweight (132 lb.) and middleweight (165 lb.). Meanwhile, some 250 men will box in 10 weight classes.

Men’s Olympic bouts last for three 3-min. rounds. The women’s bouts are four rounds of 2 min. each. Debate flared when the AIBA, the international organization governing amateur boxing, suggested women might be required to wear short skirts rather than trunks to make it easier to distinguish them from male boxers. After an uproar, the AIBA agreed that skirts will be optional.

The three women who won the U.S. Olympic boxing trials in February near Spokane, Wash.—each winning four bouts in the process—are fighting for a chance to make history.

MORE: The New Olympic Ring

Katherine Dunn  is an award-winning Oregon-based writer and author of Geek Love. She won the Dorothea Lange—Paul Taylor Award in 2004 for her work on School of Hard Knocks: The Struggle for Survival in America’s Toughest Boxing Gyms.

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