About the Photographer
American, b. 1983
Jack Edinger has spent multiple years documenting the independent professional wrestling circuit in the Midwest, visiting matches in high school gyms, VFW halls, and even parking lots. This low-budget, stripped-down version of the sport features the same mixture of competition and theatricality as the mainstream bouts on television, but, as Edinger writes, "indie pro wrestling harbors a small group of dedicated fans and workers, who often demand a more extreme and risky show for their money."
The photographs in Death Match Portraits, one of the chapters in Edinger's multi-part survey, focus on the participants of a particularly violent strand of the sport, known as "extreme wrestling." In these so-called "death match" tournaments, the wrestlers wield homemade weapons, which are constructed by their fans out of materials such as flourescent light tubes or boards covered in barbed wire. While actual deaths are rare, the bouts are still fairly brutal, even bloody, despite the element of performance involved. Edinger photographs the death match wrestlers with a large-format camera immediately after they leave the ring, having them stand in front of a white cloth backdrop. Edinger records his subjects at a moment when they have presumably let down their guard, but their poses mix bravado with evident fatigue, hinting at the personas they adopt for the fans. Jack Edinger completed a BFA in Photography at Columbia College Chicago in 2006.