Practice 1: Boxing Games
Boxing Games video to be watched here.
This video is one of the three practices included in my practice research Ph.D. completed at Northumbria University (2018-2022). The video documents the work Boxing Games, a performance co-created by former SA boxing champ George Khosi and myself in 2007. The work was made over 2 weeks whilst I was an artist in residence for the kin:be:jozi residency project. The Boxing Game is a reinvention of the rules of boxing and emerged from the training sessions, where we took specific training routines into the ring. Instead of two fighters in the ring, there were now 12 players who could shout out different rules: change! box! roar like a lion! fall down! This was a different kind of game where we played with the rules of boxing where it became less about winning and domination and more about playing to keep on playing as opposed to playing to win. The Boxing Game was performed in George's Boxing Ring in Hillbrow, in June 2007 and is still used as part of his training sessions today.
This practice research Ph.D. revisits this performance fourteen years later. Through the methods of autoethnography as well as formal and informal interviews with George, Dan, Katja (fellow players at the time), and my family, as well as commissioning Mbesta Reeds (George's cousin) to write some of the text, these writings and interviews then assisted me in 'breaking the solo story' that was told in 2007 (Adichie, 2009). The result is a polyvocal autoethnographic text, a chorus of voices that through a 'post'-apartheid, 'post'-colonial lens retell this story.
From this story emerged different themes, those of implicit violence, privilege, bodies, and ambiguity in play, which I then analyse in critical essays in the thesis, contributing new knowledge and new language to the scholarship around play.
George and Mbesta were remunerated for their time and contribution to this project. George was able to refurbish the gym and start another business on the side. Mbesta are working on a paper together. I am honoured to have worked with the participants in the retelling of this story. Thank you.