Multiple award winner, Polish photographer Tomasz Gudzowaty is one of my all time favourites. He captures soulful, high contrast black and white portraits of the lesser known sports around the world, with the help of a good old large format camera. His newest exhibition Beyond the Body shows some of his finest work from the last decade. It consists of sixteen photo-essays, all with exotic sports portraits from different, mostly non-commercial, non-mainstream sports around the globe.
Gudzowaty went from nature photography, to social documentary, and in the last few years he’s been focused on sports photography. Especially exotic, atypical sports that rarely get covered by the media. He’s always been a fan of the humanistic photography style and the classic form of the black and white photo-essay.
Mexico’s Car Frenzy tells the story of a group of auto enthusiasts in Mexico City. It’s regular people who have to work full time to support their passion of custom tuned muscle cars.
“Streets, highways, parking lots, ramps, and even indoor spaces – any place can become a racing ground for a more or less spontaneous event.”
The Nadaam Race is a horse racing event during Nadaam, the greatest national festival in Mongolia. It is a 25-30 km race through the Mongolian steppe, and mostly a test for the horses. The jockeys are usually children, since their weight and riding skills don’t really influence the score.
“Hundreds of contestants ride through the steppe until one rider decides to break for the finish line and the rest of the group follows after. The first five to finish are showered with koumiss, which is poured on the head and the hindquarters of the horse.”
Urban Golf in India was developed by a group of boys living in the slums. Even though golf is considered somewhat a game of the wealthy, with just a crooked metal stick and some balls from the toy store, anyone can play this urbanized version of the sport.
“In a modernizing India, the younger generation is increasingly exposed to Western lifestyles, and sometimes their enthusiasm produces an interesting mix of local traditions and realities with new inspirations.”
Flying Warriors is about Kalaripayattu, which is considered the oldest known form of martial arts. Kalaripayattu masters devote their lives to studying the secrets of the human body. The knowledge is used for healing discomfort or injuries, as well as killing an opponent with a single strike (at least hypothetically). The sporting version of Kalaripayattu can be dangerous too, which makes the medical expertise of the masters very helpful.
“Each duel is an astonishing performance of wonderful choreography and perfect timing that seems to defy gravity.”