Gary Weekes is a freelance photographer whose latest video project is an extension of his primary passion.
Weekes recently released a film titled Pugilist Pride: The Story of Faryad Azizi which delves into the world of boxing in New Brunswick. The film premiered on October 13, 2023, at an event held at the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame.
Currently residing in Fredericton, Weekes has lived in London, UK, and New York City. He is well known in the provincial capital as a familiar face at local happenings and is a founding member of the New Brunswick Black Artists Alliance, founded in October 2020 to support, amplify and uplift Black Artist’s voices and creations, according to their social media.
During the pandemic, Weekes was hired to take photographs by the Fredericton Boxing Club (FBC). The FBC is located on the northside of Fredericton, above the Devon Kinsmen building on School Street and often runs programs for at-risk youth. Many local boxers in the capital region call the FBC home.
In 2022, Gary Weekes became the first Black New Brunswicker to get a show at the prestigious Beaverbrook Art Gallery, when it reopened after the pandemic. That show, titled Larry Fink vs. Gary Weekes: The Boxing Portfolios, was exhibited from April 2, 2022, to June 21, 2022. It featured 16 black and white images from the FBC.
Fink is a famous photographer from the United States whose work features everyday people. Fink’s interest in boxing and boxers led to the exhibit “Boxing Portfolio” which was created in the 1980s. In this work, photographs are used as reflections on social relations, something that moved Weekes during his formative years and inspires his practice.
The photographic expo, Larry Fink vs. Gary Weekes: The Boxing Portfolios, led to the film that was produced. However, in the short film, Weekes focuses on a young amateur boxer called Faryad Azizi, of Kurdish origins, who is making his way through the local boxing circuit.
Weekes brings his well-honed photography skill to his filmmaking by incorporating the stills in his film work. The stills feature stark contrasts and crisp lines. The emotion is palpable on the face of the young people present in the images and the video work transmits these sensations, whether Azizi is training in the gym or facing off against an opponent in the ring.
The short movie also features a beautiful poem about boxing by Thandiwe McCarthy at the start of the film. In a social media post, McCarthy said: “the Fredericton Boxing Club was the only thing that saved me from dropping out of high school.”
Weekes’ first film, funded by Artsnb, is a successful incursion into the media and hopefully not his last.
Sophie M. Lavoie covers arts and culture for the NB Media Co-op and is a member of the NB Media Co-op’s editorial board.