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Work / Photography

Gem Fletcher and Ken Hermann’s cinematic series captures the wrestlers of Inner Mongolia

British art director Gem Fletcher and Danish photographer Ken Hermann have collaborated on Bökh, a short film and photo series capturing the fascinating culture of wrestling in Inner Mongolia.

Shot on the vast, open grasslands that run from the mountains of Inner Mongolia to the border of Outer Mongolia, the film contrasts kaleidoscopic costumes against a serene backdrop for strikingly cinematic visuals. The film’s narrative, however, remains quiet, calm and minimal, observing the intriguing characters and depicting wrestling in an unusually undramatic way.

“We were interested in this lesser known form of wrestling only found and practiced by a small group of men in Inner Mongolia,” Gem explains. “The strong cultural heritage and ritual of the sport intrigued us. We were particularly interested in how it governed status for young men within the community as well as defining manliness."

“When a boy is born in Inner Mongolia, his family pray for him to become a wrestler. This ancient tradition is still a key status symbol in the nomadic community and the central focus of many young men’s lives.”

“After spending time getting to know the wrestlers, one thing which stood out was how they navigate between the past and present. As young men they intuitively transition between a passionate dedication to continuing this cultural tradition which dates back centuries, while also being interested in present day fashion and culture, despite having exceptionally limited connection to the internet and living in a very remote location.”

Shot over 10 days, Bökh premieres today on Nowness and the stills, exclusive to It’s Nice That, can be viewed below.

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Gem Fletcher and Ken Hermann: Bökh

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Gem Fletcher and Ken Hermann: Bökh

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Gem Fletcher and Ken Hermann: Bökh

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Gem Fletcher and Ken Hermann: Bökh

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Gem Fletcher and Ken Hermann: Bökh

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Gem Fletcher and Ken Hermann: Bökh

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Gem Fletcher and Ken Hermann: Bökh

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Gem Fletcher and Ken Hermann: Bökh

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Gem Fletcher and Ken Hermann: Bökh

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Gem Fletcher and Ken Hermann: Bökh