It’s always good to know what you like.
Baltimore-based photographer Ben McNutt fully immerses himself in the world of wrestling, spending his days poring over historic images, training with a wrestling tutor, and prolifically photographing his own subtly erotic wrestling scenarios.
Okay, maybe not so subtle.
Explaining why he gravitates towards the subject, McNutt says “the sport holds culturally and socially significant subtexts — such as power, athleticism, and desire.”
“There is a fine line between socially acceptable and unacceptable behavior between two men,” he tells Queerty.
It’s more complex than simple physical and emotional gestures we witness. It’s confusing when we see wrestlers in the referee position, a starting position in which one wrestler is on top grabbing the bottom wrestler’s waist, the bottom wrestler on all fours.
While a student at Maryland Institute College of Art, McNutt began hoarding a massive amount of wrestling memorabilia: stamps, newspaper clippings, singlets, headgear, wrestling shoes, drawings, stickers, buttons, and photos.
“I dedicated my free time to attending wrestling events and reading books about the sport,” he says. “I began a training regimen to better understand the physical components of wrestling and alter my own physique.”
“My work stands as a part of a larger body that chronicles the human fascination with the athletic form,” he says.
However, my use of photography extends this conversation by intentionally framing our perspective.
In doing so, our impressions, responses, and desires become inseparable from the subjects in the photographs.
This July, McNutt has been invited to photograph the Kirkpinar oil wrestling festival in Turkey.
Anything purchased from his online shop — which features a massive assortment of his wrestling photos — will help finance the trip.
“I’m beyond nervous to get my butt out of my artistic and personal comfort zone,” he says, “but couldn’t be more thrilled to photograph this 700-year-old event.”
Visit Ben McNutt’s website here.
His Instagram account — which is utterly packed with wrestling photos — can be found here.