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The sport of wrestling holds culturally and socially significant subtexts, such as power, athleticism, and desire. McNutt's in-depth, artistic exploration of this sport throughout history demonstrates a natural obsession with these subtexts. Perhaps McNutt's artwork is a representation of all of our fantasies, obsessions, intrigues, and desires. His work stands as a part of a larger body that chronicles the human fascination with the athletic form. However, his 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. McNutt allows us to share an intimate embrace with wrestling.

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Baltimore-based artist Ben Mcnutt is creating a queer perspective on the sport of wrestling through art. His photographs illustrate his own interpretation of the sport and touch on issues of heteronormativity and homosexuality through history, culture, and athleticism.

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I came across early 20th century photographs depicting wrestling holds. It was a pure instantaneous attraction. I couldn’t put my finger on what was the source of the attraction at the time. It was just there. Something about the history, the pose, the content. Shortly after I began photographing wrestling holds akin to the old images, curious to see what would come from them. I never used the images but it was the initial spark that led on my obsession with wrestling.
— Ben McNutt
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Mcnutt showcases his own passion and understanding of the sport of wrestling through his photographs, and uses them to provoke a conversation about a sport that he believes deserves more visibility and discussion. 

Images of young, perspiring wrestlers in tight singlets take on an almost sensual nature, which highlights a beautiful, less aggressive approach to wrestling culture. Another installation showing ancient Greek and Roman statues, titled The Uffizi Wrestlers, provides a historical context to wrestling and puts into question the sport’s claims of heteronormative behavior. 

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Photography by Ben Mcnutt / Text by Calla Camero from FourTwoNine

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