2612568276918. A collection of art with supporting narratives

The Sporting Image

The Abstraction of Form in Sport:
A Collection of Art with Supporting Narratives

Edited by Clive Palmer (2011)

 It’s a fight – beauty and beast – Female boxing is a sport much maligned, banned in some countries and heavily frowned upon in others. The idea that women might compete in a masculine blood-sport seems to be considered shocking and perhaps even distasteful by some people in modern-day society (Langton 2001).

It is as if boxing is regarded as something that women just shouldn’t do, this being the opposite expectation of how women should behave in society.

Consequently, assumptions about how women ‘should’ behave are the controversial points being challenged in this artwork and its content attempts to emphasize the contrast between how female boxers and glamour models may be perceived in the public eye.

The original idea for the picture consisted of four basic images that told a story sequentially but this format was rejected being too systematic. As a development, the construction of form through a collage seemed to permit greater experimentation with ideas, and with a more abstract tone for depicting content.

This view is qualified by Craig (2008) who points out that “the collagist must pre-empt the reception of visual information, manipulate the associations that each element brings and orchestrate their interaction with one another and the viewer”.

The collage is divided into two halves conceptually and physically – the beauty and the beast are locked in battle but in societal terms it may not be clear exactly where the fight is; equal gender opportunities in sports, women’s rights, sexism, discrimination or the commoditization of women?

The left-hand side of the artwork shows some female stereotypes and modern-day ideas about beauty in the female form. This is the reason for the pink edges of the picture, pink being a color often used to symbolize femininity.

The viewer should also witness the crowds looking at the glamorous girls on the left side. In some cases, they may be leering, and the cartoon figures are deliberately drawn in a sketchy outline to infer the hollowness of a character that might idolize the alluring forms and shallow concepts of femininity.

The oversized eye is intended to show that it may be this type of behavior which attracts a majority of attention towards women, and that much of it may be unwanted, unhelpful or distracting and is probably irrelevant to daily life.

The image then goes through a stage of transition as the right side of the work attempts to symbolize the brutality of female boxing. The edging also changes from the feminine pink to a dark red.

This is to symbolize the brutal blood-sport that boxing is. Crucially, the middle figure of the woman posing with boxing gloves on is there to symbolize the ‘foxy boxing’ franchise, something which seems to create a disturbing contrast between the two sides of the image.

That is, it exaggerates and exposes the controversial associations between men’s stereotypical views of women, boxing, women in sport, glamour and sex. Deplorably, foxy boxing is a sport’s entertainment which involves two or more women boxing, or pretending to do so, in a sexualized context as a form of erotic entertainment.

A form of pornography, the participants are typically dressed in revealing clothing such as bikinis or skin-tight leotards, while the actual fight usually focuses on the beauty of the combatants rather than fighting skills (Rotella, 2004).

A further issue highlighted by the artwork may be that the general public are not used to seeing women boxers and because of its masculine overtones may struggle to appreciate them as serious contenders in their chosen sport.

However, some women such as the tennis player, Anna Kournakova, may play upon their prettiness for capital gain or even to stay in the sporting limelight for longer. Anna Kournakova who retired from professional tennis to take up modelling, has appeared regularly on the front of Sports Illustrated. Unsurprisingly, this has not happened in the sport of women’s boxing which is not sought after by the media.


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A collection of art with supporting narratives