Mark Leahy

I am a photographer and videographer from Westmeath. My work tends to focus on social issues and subcultures within our society. Collaboration is an extremely important feature of my work; I try to involve my subjects in the creative process. I find that this balances the power dynamic between photographer and subject. I also find that working with others helps fuel the creative process and this helps drive my projects. In my work, I want to apply my technical abilities and my understanding of visual language in a positive and socially responsible manner.


Project Description:
This Project is the culmination of a 10-week investigation into the nature and culture of Jiu Jitsu in Ireland. I focused on a gym in Mullingar called Lakelands Jiu Jitsu. This project explores every facet of jiu jitsu, the victory, the defeat, the friendships, and the fluid dichotomy the sport has with it intimacy and brutality.

I achieved this by immersing myself totally into the culture of this martial art, engaging it head on. I began training and speaking with the members of the gym, went to competitions and teaching myself the history and philosophy of the sport. All to gain a better understanding and to create an intimate insight on this martial art.

During my time training, I discovered the dualistic nature of the martial art, that at times it is brutal, animalistic, but it is also intimate and graceful. Similar to a dance or performance. I was pleasantly surprised by how open and friendly the people within the community were, as there was a great sense of fraternalism among the men at the gym and I was instantly welcomed.

Shown as a series of strikingly vivid images, their unembellished rawness is accentuated by the stark contrast between black and white.