The New York-based artist Paul Pfeiffer is best known for his video works, usually comprising short loops of athletes and entertainers where meticulous digital editing distorts the figures into a ghostly trace.
In his latest exhibition at Galerie Perrotin’s Hong Kong outpost, Pfeiffer recreates the ‘fight of the century’ between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao held in Las Vegas earlier this year.
Video footage of the 12 rounds of boxing has been transformed so that the fighters fade and merge into each other while the audio track – reduced to the sound of the boxers and the crowd – is artificially reproduced using traditional ‘foley’ techniques, of creating sounds from other objects.
The title, ‘Three Figures in a Room’, references a 1963 triptych by the painter Francis Bacon. ‘I enjoy playing with images with a temporality that I associate with painting,’ Pfeiffer explains.
Although the boxing match footage is mesmerising in the way it focuses attention on the innate violence of the spectacle, the highlight of the piece is a second video, presented in a separate room in the gallery and synced to the fight, showing two live ‘actors’ hunched over slabs of raw meat recreating the sound of human flesh being punched as they match the live sound effects.
Nearby, in a third room, a collection of new tabletop works shown on small screens almost steals the show. These Caryatids present video footage of solitary boxers being punched in slow motion. Intensive editing and computer manipulation has erased the opponent, focusing the viewer’s attention on the brutal impact inflicted by the invisible assailant.