Jobbers. Exports. Hamilton’s wrestling “factory.” The language of work and the language of wrestling share a similar vocabulary that help situate it as a favourite spectacle of working class folks in post-industrial cities (and beyond). Whether you love it or hate it, wrestling—both amateur and the world of professional wrestling popularized by the WWE— demands strength, skill, cooperation and theatricality of its talent. While people question whether or not wrestling is “real,” the perils of a career as a wrestler are substantial. Stories from wrestling’s past and present echo those in industrial workplaces, from union drives among pro wrestlers and camaraderie, to the chronic pain associated with exposure to punishing working conditions.
Punching the Clock, an exhibition of design and research by graphic artist Dave Kuruc, presents the faces, places and names of Hamilton’s amateur wrestling scene against a backdrop of Hamilton’s downtown and east end industrial neighbourhoods in the mid-20th century. The stories of the wrestlers represented illustrate how wrestling weaved a community together around common experiences of labour and leisure. The working lives of the people behind the pomp of their characters show the creativity and resilience of everyday people working for a living in a changing city.
A love letter to Hamilton’s past and present, this exhibition positions wrestling as equal parts art, work and sport — a true worker’s art form.
Curated by Tara Bursey.
This exhibition and program will be accompanied by an exhibition essay by Anthony Easton.
About the Artist and Curator:
Dave Kuruc is a Hamilton-based graphic artist. Inspired by the history and culture of Hamilton’s downtown core, his design work can be found on t-shirts, hats, buttons, patches, posters, prints, postcards, album covers, shop signs and the Hamilton Street Railway’s B-Line bus. Dave’s local leadership has been recognized with Top 30 Under 30 honours from Hamilton Magazine, and Top 40 Under 40 honours from The Hamilton Spectator, and in 2008 as a Mohawk College Alumni of Distinction. He most recently completed a commission to create public art in Downtown Hamilton’s Gore Park. Dave, with his wife Teresa Devries, are the people behind Mixed Media art shop and the new King West Books.
Tara Bursey is an interdisciplinary artist, independent curator, writer and arts worker with an interest in social history and social justice, working class identity, printed matter and subcultures. Formerly the coordinator of exhibitions and programs at the Workers Arts & Heritage Centre, she is now the Interim Manager of Education at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. She lives and works in Hamilton.
WAHC acknowledges the Canada Council for the Arts for its support of the Punching The Clock: Working to Wrestle in Hamilton exhibition and program.
For more information, contact Hitoko Okada, Interim Program Coordinator at [email protected]
or (905) 522-3003 ex. 29
The Workers Arts & Heritage Centre is a fully accessible building.