21 July 2007
On 21 July, Tate Modern will host a spectacular one-off event involving amateur boxing clubs, musicians and dancers from the London borough of Southwark. The Fight, a boxing, music and dance performance, has been conceived by the Panamanian-born artist, Humberto Vélez, and will take place in a boxing ring on the bridge in The Turbine Hall. More than 100 boxers from three boxing clubs will parade through the gallery and the best will perform in the ring.
The Fight has been orchestrated by Vélez following four months of work with the clubs, dancers and musicians, who helped him shape the work. Created in collaboration with Fitzroy Lodge ABC, Fisher Downside ABC and Lynn’s Athletic Club, it is the culmination of a series of multidisciplinary workshops. It will feature six amateur, non-competitive displays of fighting skills, music specially composed by MC Mic Assassin and choreography by the street dance company Flawless.
Members of the boxing clubs will arrive from the Millennium Bridge and the river Thames as two simultaneous processions, one led by a bagpiper and one led by two African drummers. Carrying a specially designed banner and costumes, the participants will be local amateur boxers from a wide range of age groups and abilities.
Humberto Vélez was born in Panamá and currently lives and works in London. He is fascinated by the ways in which local communities define themselves and their culture and the ways in which people cross borders and are perceived by others. He has worked on a number of visually spectacular events with local communities including, among others, Liverpool Biennial in 2006 in which he involved local asylum seekers and refugees; Venice in 2005 when he staged Regatta Cantata, Iceland in 2005 where The Skyline featured a kite parade and Havana Biennial, Cuba, 2003 where he developed a performance piece with a female band.
Boxing has a long history in the London borough of Southwark.In 1910 the former Surrey Chapel at Blackfriars was converted into a famous boxing arena but was destroyed by bombing during World War II. Numerous very active clubs in the borough are home to a thriving boxing community.
The Fight has been made possible with the support of The Amateur Boxing Association of England and the Panamanian Embassy in the UK.