Bessie and Minnie Gordon were performers/ boxers who were recorded in Thomas Edison’s 1901 short film Gordon Sisters Boxing. The film depicts the two women, one in a white ruffled dress and the other in a black ruffled dress, fighting in front of an elaborately painted background of a cultivated garden. The sparring seems more performative than pugilistic, especially when the women stop punching to do 360 degree spins. This particular move seems to function neither tactically nor defensively but rather provocatively, as their dresses flare upward and their knees are revealed. Also confusing the intent of the act, the Gordon Sisters performed their boxing routine not in the context of other athletic exhibitions, but in the context of other female performers, headlining for a burlesque troupe. It is uncertain whether this recording documents a precursor to contemporary women’s mud wrestling, or an attempt at expressing genuine athletic ambition in one of the only ways that could have been viable given the saturatingly patriarchal culture of the era. This video reformats, excerpts and edits elements of  Edison’s original film to create a near seamless loop. Its sister piece combines the sleeves of a fox fur coat, and an antique pair of leather lace up boxing gloves. Its use of animal furs and leather both contribute to the elegance and the fierceness – the wildness of the piece – where “woman” is both associated with nature but also contrasted with it.
boxing gloves, fox fur
1’w x 6”d x 3’ l