Nicolai Howalt, ‘Michael Ullits Christensen’, 2001, Bruce Silverstein Gallery

BOXER by Nicolai Howalt is a photographic portrait project about young boys between 11 and 17 years of age. The starting point of the photographs is young amateur boxers in Denmark and abroad. The photographs are shot in sets of two, one before the match and one just after. The project, as an initial point, is not about winners and losers, likewise the match is secondary. It is rather about expectations, consequences and transformation. It is about establishing a sense of identity during the age of puberty and the consequences that either victory or defeat has on young men of that age. They are boys and young men who aim to live up to cultural ideas about masculinity. They risk a lot more than the trophy or a blue eye. A sense of ambiguity appears within their childish naîvete and an aura of brutality, pride and courage.

About Nicolai Howalt

In color and black-and-white photographs, Nicolai Howalt blurs the boundaries between abstraction and documentation, beauty and the grotesque, and life and death. He recognizes the duality of photographs as both records of reality and easily manipulated images, stating: “What we photograph, what is shown in the work, is always something concrete. . . . I would like to challenge the surface of the media and to have both a concrete and an abstract story, yet to keep ‘something’ we cannot see or perhaps fully comprehend.” Working in this spirit, Howalt has created a range of series including photographs of wrecked vehicles after car crashes, closely framed so as to render them nearly abstract; photographs of UV light rays, normally invisible to the naked eye; and, together with his longtime artistic collaborator Trine Søndergaard, poetic pictures of birds shot by hunters, captured the moment after the kill.

Danish, b. 1970, Copenhagen, Denmark, based in Copenhagen, Denmark