“The Black Eye” continues Michal Chelbin’s exploration of the world of athletes and performers from Eastern Europe, Israel, and England. The athletes and wrestlers in this series are studies in contrasts: youth and manhood, strength and weakness, tenderness and rigidity, odd and ordinary, splendor and roughness. Presented in a clear and balanced format, the pictures challenge the viewer with their ambiguity.
While revealing little about the lives of Chelbin’s subjects, the photos do reveal an internal drama, capturing a tension between the gaze and the presence of each individual. These athletes are exhausted after a hard training session or fight. Some are breathless, sweaty, and fatigued. Chelbin searches for a certain expression in which they have almost calmed their breath but not yet fully regained their self-awareness. It is a moment when they have lifted their mask and surrendered to the camera. Her aim is to expose this moment, and the contradiction between the person and the persona.