Day of the fight: Paul Pfeiffer’s display of iconic boxing matches at Galerie Perrotin

Paul Pfeiffer showcases digital edits of iconic boxing footage
Paul Pfeiffer's latest exhibition, at Galerie Perrotin in Hong Kong, showcases digital edits of iconic boxing footage. Photography: Joyce Yung
(Image credit: Joyce Yung, Paul Pfeiffer, Galerie Perrotin)

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.

A view of 'Three Figures in a Room' at Galerie Perrotin

A view of 'Three Figures in a Room' at Galerie Perrotin – the ‘fight of the century’ between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, held in Las Vegas earlier this year, is shown on a large screen

(Image credit: Paul Pfeiffer, Galerie Perrotin)

Sportsman jumping high in the air in front of a full stadium of people

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (30) takes its name from a biblical concept, used frequently throughout art history (most famously in the epic 1887 painting by Victor Vasnetsov), reflecting Pfeiffer's artistic obsession with repetition and reproduction. Pictured: Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (30), 2015

(Image credit: Paul Pfeiffer, Galerie Perrotin)

Boxer in a ring in front of spectators on a white screen

The term 'caryatid' usually refers to a sculpted female figure serving as an architectural support for a building, taking the place of a pillar. Here, the boxers symbolically take the place of these figures. Pictured: Caryatids (Maidana), 2015. Photography: Joyce Yung

(Image credit: Joyce Yung, Paul Pfeiffer, Galerie Perrotin)

Boxer in a ring in front of spectators on a black screen

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 is artificially reproduced using traditional ‘foley’ techniques. Pictured: Caryatids (Margarito), 2015. Photography: Joyce Yung

(Image credit: Joyce Yung, Paul Pfeiffer, Galerie Perrotin)

Boxer in a ring in front of spectators on a red screen

The highly edited slow-motion footage of boxers being hit forces the viewer to focus on the violence of the impact. Pictured: Caryatids (Hatton), 2015. Photography: Joyce Yung

(Image credit: Joyce Yung, Paul Pfeiffer, Galerie Perrotin)

Boxer in a ring in front of spectators on a yellow screen

Some of the most famous boxers in the world are featured in the series (Manny Pacquiao is seen here). Pictured: Caryatids (Pacquiao), 2015. Photography: Joyce Yung

(Image credit: Joyce Yung, Paul Pfeiffer, Galerie Perrotin)

Boxer in a ring in front of spectators on a green screen

Historically, Pfeiffer's work has focused on the erasure of icons, encouraging his audiences to focus on acts and repeated moments instead of celebrity or pop culture. The footage displayed on the Caryatids continue this theme, with the erasure of one of the boxers. Pictured: Caryatids (Rios), 2015. Photography: Joyce Yung.

(Image credit: Joyce Yung, Paul Pfeiffer, Galerie Perrotin)

INFORMATION

'Three Figures in a Room' is on view until 9 January 2016. For more information, visit Galerie Perrotin's website (opens in new tab)

Photography courtesy of Paul Pfeiffer and Galerie Perrotin

ADDRESS

Galerie Perrotin Hong Kong
17/F, 50 Connaught Road Central
Hong Kong

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