"Daniel’s four screen installation, POLYGON, is a skillfully edited video montage where sounds and images flip around the viewer like a boxer prancing around the ring. He uses documentary archive material and his own footage to explore the history of the East End and draws parallels between the estate agents and boxers fighting for the glittering prizes. I loved the sense of time collapsing as the different eras slide across each other."
Dave Andrews / Moving Image Arts
London, UK / July 2016
It was September 2014. I had just arrived in the London Borough of Newham to start my Master of Fine Arts (MFA) at Goldsmiths University, when I saw the memorial for Bradley Stone in front of Peacock Gym for the first time. There was boxing gear displayed in the glass window next to it. A young man in front of the gym was smoking a cigarette. In a strange way his body posture resembled the posture of the monument for Bradley Stone.
Bradley Stone was a young working class hero who died after his boxing match with Richie Wenton in April 1994. I remember that I was drawn to the pathos of it, curious about the pride and the violence. I wanted to know more about the status of THE GYM in the social fabric of London’s East End.
So I decided to leave my own comfort zone and to get involved. I first started boxing at Peacock Gym, later I changed to train Muay Thai at Fightzone Gym in Bethnal Green. Muay Thai is a combat sport that originally comes from Thailand. During the last century it was heavily influenced by British boxing. Yet unlike boxers, Muay Thai fighters can make full use of punches, elbows, kicks, knees and clinch work. In Thailand Muay Thai is as popular as soccer in Europe. While I was working on POLYGON, I was training three to six times a week.
In 2016 I graduated with distinction from Goldsmiths University. POLYGON is my degree show piece.
London, May 2017
“It’s almost as though resistance is futile but there are pockets of us hanging on to that kind of independence and community - and the support within that community. To network and meet people who are like-minded. So for me it’s where I find myself a new beginning and that I’m looking forward to. And it will transpose into other people’s lives, yeah - it will affect other people.”
Arch 1 / London, April 2016
4-Channel Video, 8-Channel Audio Installation
Based on the structure of a Boxing Ring, POLYGON sets out to explore the complex relationships between class, community, finance and capital in the context of London’s former docklands. It draws parallels between prize fighting in Martial Arts and the relentless prize fight in London’s property market, while juxtaposing the violent image of Boxing with the authority of the financial system.
At the same time it attempts to explore an inverted structure: even though Boxing has a violent image, it is rooted in the social context of the gym. The financial system on the other hand is represented by slick facades of skyscrapers, expensive suits, security guards and surveillance cameras - yet one could argue that it is rooted in a violent underlaying structure.
Polygon forces you to move: Not unlike a fighter in the ring you have to shift your focus and body posture in accordance with image and sound panning over the four screens around you. The ideas unfold according to your engagement with the piece and with the choices you make while watching it.
Channel 1: Fightzone Gym
Channel 2: Daniel Terry vs Paul Barber
Channel 3: London Docklands
Channel 4: Canary Wharf
The Dome: POLYGON
25.05. - 04.06.2017
P O L Y G O N
A Solo Show by Daniel Dressel (now Daniel Vollmond)
11c South Crescent
London Borough of Newham, E16 4TL
I want to thank all the members of Fightzone Gym for their support, especially my coach, José Varela. I also want to thank James Roach, founder and owner of Fightzone Gym and Adetayo ‘Tayo’ Duroshola, who allowed me to film during his competition at Raw Talent, Eastham Working Men’s Club, in June 2016.
Furthermore I want to thank the PLA Collection / Museum of London who opened their archive to my research, and who kindly allowed me to re-edit historic footage owned by the PLA Collection: City of Ships (1938 - 1939), London River and Docks (ca. 1920), Pola Fen London (1951) and Port of London (1924).
With special thanks to my friend Robert Clarke, a former Boxing coach who now runs a Live Music Venue and Jam Sessions at Arch1 in Newham.
Without CODY DOCK and Gasworks Dock Partnership, my first solo exhibition would not have been possible. I want to thank Gasworks Dock Partnership for their dedication, organisational effort and support. I also want to thank Jules Shapter and GaiaNova for their advice and technical assistance.
London, May 2017
“So when I came to this country - it was not much to do. You know? And I said - you know - I saw a gym. I said, let me go and train! So I went and trained, stayed there for fun, end up turning a fighter. That’s how I started. [ ... ] I learned how to control myself. Before I used to get angry very quick, so now I ignore a lot of stuff. Cause you know what you’re capable of, so - you gotta stay back and stuff.”
“To train you can’t train by yourself. You always have to have someone to help you out, [ ... ] to push you when you start breaking and stuff. That’s why I always said: Whatever people achieve, is a teamwork achievement.”
José Varela (MTGP World Champion 2015)
Fightzone Gym / London, 2016
“This is just absolutely incredible! 25 seconds to go in round 3. [ ... ] Big shots right to the end! 10 seconds to go. We can barely see Barber’s features for the blood that covers him. And he lands another elbow! Both men covered in the blood of one! Does it get any more gruesome or any more exiting than that?”
“Love it, I absolutely love it! This is what the crowd has come for. This is what sells tickets!”
Sports Commentators (Muay Thai Grand Prix 3)
Daniel Terry vs. Paul Barber / O2 Arena, London, 26.03.2016
“And er, eventually things got so bad that I was forced into professional boxing.
Er, in the 1930s things were so bad that you either had to be a thief or try and get some money some other ways if you could, and I, I never, could be a good thief, I’m no good, I’m not that way, so I went in for professional boxing and I was - I had roughly 250 fights.”
Museum of Docklands Recording Project , DK/86/ 345/1
Stan Rose (b. 1910) / Audio Recording / London, 1984
“The sales market is very stong at the moment, and I think the increase in that market will also affect the lettings market, as it always does - which means that over the next 12 months prices are bound to increase in the area.”
“As I’m sure many of you know, the London Property Market is booming at the moment. So we are finding that there is probably about twelve buyers to every single property that we are taking on the market.”
“Canary Wharf has already increased property values in some areas by as much as 40%. [ ... ] As you can hear and see: there still is a lot of construction going on. So we hope that we can capitalize on that.”
Henry Wiltshire International / What Property Investors Need To Know About Canary Wharf (YouTube)
London, March 2015