Flexing Muscles has its origins in observations of 'Lucha Libre', a Mexican form of professional wrestling in the 30s, which Charles Fairbanks made during his time in Mexico as a photographer. That 'Lucha Libre' is more than just an ordinary wrestling show is made clear by the description of this sport as a mass phenomenon whose practice is deeply rooted in Mexican society.
This short film in the style of a documentary highlights the popularity of these fighters who, regardless of the way they are admired in their communities, still have to go about their daily work in order to earn their living. The two contrasting worlds of show-fighting and earning their livelihood have physical labour in common. The artist shows the fighters’ two spheres of life, in their daily jobs and masked in their fantasy roles, one after the other. In the final sequence the viewer is given a completely new view of the contests when the artist himself takes part as a competitor. The use of a camera fixed to Fairbanks’ mask makes possible a perspective which shows the untouched reality close up. The final point-of-view-shots allow the viewer to look through the eyes of El Gato Tuerto, a figure created by the artist specially for this film. (Miriam Cockx)