Marc McAndrews: American Ultraviolence
Photographer’s Photographer, Marc McAndrews’ new project, American Ultraviolence, allows us entree into the world of extreme wrestling, where blood and posturing are part of the spectacle. Marc’s work often explores fringe cultures, including his well-regarded project, Nevada Rose that took a look at life in legal brothels. This access comes from being present and being curious and hours and hours behind a wheel.
Marc grew up in Reading, Pa. and has always had a wandering streak. He got his first camera, a Polaroid 600, from his grandmother when he was five years old and used it to pass the time during his family’s long summertime drives. Marc’s love of photography and road trips joined forces when he started buying conversion vans (his 1994 Chevy G20’s were his favorite) on Ebay in the early 2000’s. He lived out of these vans for long periods of time, traversing the country and photographing the American interior. It was in the course of these travels that Marc began photographing his critically acclaimed book, Nevada Rose which captures the personalities and places of Nevada’s legal brothels.
Marc’s work has been most notably seen in the New York Times and magazines such as Time, Stern, D Magazine and many others. Marc was a recipient of the Magenta Art Foundation’s 2006“Flash Forward” award, was invited to the Santa Fe Review in 2012 and was Chosen and Selected for American Photo 23, 28 and 31. Nevada Rose received a much coveted starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, was nominated for the 2009 NY Photo Awards and, along with his series about JROTC programs, was an official selection for the 2009 and 2011 Lucie Awards.
Marc’s photographs have been widely recognized with interviews and photo features appearing everywhere from Serbia to Brazil to Italy to Australia with Nevada Rose going viral on news site Business Insider with over 3 million individual shares.Marc has lectured at the School of Visual Arts, The New School, Sarah Lawrence College, Cooper Union, New York’s International Center of Photography, Rutgers University, The Museum of Sex and many other places. He works everywhere but is based out of New York.
Professional wrestling is a huge part of American culture. The mix of athleticism and violent theater has more in common with Shakespearean Revenge Plays than actual sport. Dialog recited before and after each match frame the character development of the “Faces” and “Heels” while the performance of sport uses practiced and choreographed stunts to create the illusion of combat. The 1950’s saw the introduction of blood as a theatrical element which crossed many lines of social taboos but at the same time boosted audience levels to new heights and began what is now known as hardcore wrestling.
Today, independent promotions specializing in Ultraviolence and Death Matches go in search of audiences performing in fields, social clubs and carnival-like events with ever increasing levels of violence. Crowds of sunburnt men, women, and young children crowd close to the ring as every fall into barbed wire, and every broken pane of glass elicits gasps and eventual cheers when the wrestlers show off their injuries. In a very extreme way, the theatrical self-mutilation for the crowd’s enjoyment highlights our attraction as a society to violence and questions where entertainment ends and our taboos begin.
The American Death Match is a series of portraits of the wrestlers and fans of this niche of choreographed violence.
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