In a sculptural, custom-built arena within the gallery, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters will take position as the dynamic core of the exhibition. The live happenings are set to generate highly charged scenarios framed within artist duo ATOI's sculptural practice. The exhilarating combination of minimal rules and indiscriminate striking and grappling techniques constitute the main characteristics of the full contact combat sport, infamously known as cage fighting. In previous live works MMA fights were staged to deliberately impact on the constructed environments. The destructive and unpredictable force of combat gradually erodes and wrecks the sculptural structures from within.
ATOI suggest that these scenarios 'create an unbalance within the fighters' intuitive structure'; inferring that the unfamiliar spaces and circumstances disturb their natural and instinctive approach to the sport. In prior events the artists have introduced raw materials to the ring, such as coal, earth and spice, which as well as creating a sense of unease among fighters, visibly records the impact of the fight through unpredictable scuffs, marks and deposits. As such ATOI relinquish a level of control and authorship over the works. They evaluate the violent events in terms of the energy, tension, force and psychological dynamics generated, traces of which can be measured in the aftermaths of the fights. Within the gallery, distinct from the main enclosure, are sculptures constructed from the residual material from previous cage fights at prior locations. The artists describe these outcomes as having a âradically unrefined' aesthetic.
Stimulus for their work arises from ATOI's interest in physics and geology; in particular the work of Geologist Bailey Willis, who was interested in the movement of land masses and developed a concept for how mountains are formed. When two tectonic plates collide, the immense forces crumple and breakup the layers of rock, creating colossal peaks and valleys. In relation to this theory the fighters act out the mechanics of forced confrontation; separate energies colliding to create unforeseen sculptural outcomes.
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