Shaun Leonardo

Battle Royal, 2010, performance video, 3 hrs. at Nuit Blanche, Toronto, Canada 10/3/09. Edited by Brad L Cooper with Classic Championship Wrestling

Unscripted cage match. Inspired by Ralph Ellison's The Invisible Man, twenty professional wrestlers fought blindfolded until only one man was left standing as an intense, theatrical recreation of the book’s opening scene also entitled Battle Royal. Occupying a space between literary representation, wrestling spectacle and art performance Battle Royal was a vicious, unscripted event hearkening back to the actual fight to-the-end bouts African Americans were encouraged to enter for prize winnings during post-slavery American South; while manifesting my own investigations into masculine identity.

The experience of being in this cage, blindfolded, for three hours is the closest I've come to the desperation, loneliness and panic I believe best describes the End Days. I return to this work to remind me that I've trained myself, psychologically, for what may feel, currently and in the future, like something from which there is no return. 

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