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It was a first for Art Week Miami: a Japanese women’s wrestling event held in a skatepark in the city’s downtown area. The organisers say that more than 1,000 people turned out to see Sukeban’s debut in the city 6 December at the Lot 11 skatepark, located underneath a highway overpass.
Commander Nakajima was crowned the victor and recipient of the championship belt after several rounds; she was awarded a specialist belt designed by Marc Newson in the cloisonné style (the ancient technique of decorating metal, ceramics and porcelain). The Japanese illustrator Ayako Ishiguro created the illustration that decorates the central plate, which depicts key figures in wrestling history.
The UK milliner Stephen Jones meanwhile designed the wrestlers’ hats while creative director Olympia Le-Tan designed the costumes. She tells The Art Newspaper: “We thought it made sense to be here during Art Basel given all the amazing creatives that are involved in the project, from Marc Newson, and Ayako Ishiguro to [make-up artist] Isamaya Ffrench. These wrestlers are incredibly talented, and strong athletes and deserve to be seen through this cultural lens.”
Sukeban is a Japanese term meaning “delinquent girl” and was also the name given to girl gangs that emerged in the 1960s and 70s; Dazed Digital has called Sukeban a “sport-slash-performance-artform”.