Humberto Vélez

The Fight
Video, 2009

Artist Statement

The Fight is a project that synthesizes a boxing, dance, and music performance created in collaboration with three boxing clubs from Southwark: Fitzroy Lodge ABC, Fisher Downside ABC, and Lynn ABC. This project includes five amateur fights featuring specially composed music by Mc Mic Assassin and a choreography created by the street dance company Flawless. Members of the boxing clubs arrive from the Millennium Bridge and the river Thames as two simultaneous processions gathering outside the Tate Modern before entering the building to perform on the bridge over the Turbine Hall. The performance The Fight is the culmination of a series of multidisciplinary workshops conducted by Panamanian UK-based artist Humberto Vélez. This project highlights the complexity of creating a new aesthetic language based on popular cultural images and icons. Through the juxtaposition of the fight, the music and the dance choreography, possibilities for understanding this expansion of the artistic are revealed in this project.


Humberto Vélez studied Law and Political Sciences at the University of Panama and was awarded a scholarship from The Foundation of Latin American Cinema for studying Filmmaking and TV in the International School of Cinema of San Antonio de Los Baños, Cuba, founded by Gabriel García Márquez. He has been an artist in residence in Vienna, London (Triangle Arts Trust-Gasworks), Sheffield (UK), London Southend-on-Sea (METAL) and Paris (Cite des Arts) and most recently the Art Gallery of York University, Toronto, Canada. In 2000, he presented his first solo exhibition “Instalaciones” (Installations) at the Museum for Contemporary Art in Panama, curated by Virgina Pérez-Ratton and Adrienne Samos. In 2011 a major survey of past performance works took place at the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU), curated by Emelie Chhangur. Vélez has created performances at the TATE Modern, London, and Centre Pompidou, Paris, as well as in biennials in Liverpool, Lima, Panama, and Shanghai, among many others. He recently participated in the 2011 Venice Biennale.

Vélez’s performances actively explore the possibilities of working in collaboration with different groups (artists and handcrafters, special communities, athletes, musicians, and groups formed especially for the project), in different places and cultures. The artistic projects are conceived from what he calls “the ability to create esthetics” of, for, and with these groups, according to their different lifestyles, thereby managing different concepts and expressions of popular culture, power, and ethics. The human relations on which Vélez constructs his creative processes are as important as the final project. In his public art performances, as according to curator Gerardo Mosquera, “the community should be an active agent”. His art also “interweaves personal memories, dreams, visions, and the determination of pretending to invent new worlds.” For this, the artist works with diverse media and themes, ranging from the popular to the high-tech, from the traditional to the contemporary. (courtesy of the Art Gallery of York University)