This photobook documents 00s boxing in the heat of Thailand’s Krabi jungle

Featuring an introduction by Mario Sorrenti, Drew Jarrett’s 'Jungle Dreams' is a multicoloured journey in self-exploration.

by Jenna Mahale
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Nov 19 2020, 2:43pm

When Drew Jarrett began shooting the images that would later comprise Jungle Dreams, he wasn’t in the best way. In the book’s afterword, the photographer describes his physical state in January 2001 as a “complete mess”, at the tail end of a nine-year drug addiction as he arrived in Kuala Lumpur. 

Drew’s original plan, to shoot a documentary across several Asian countries, now seemed entirely unfeasible. “My body like rubber, my bones and skin destroyed, brain a mess -- I decided I had to find a new project,” he writes. In Thailand, Drew befriended a bartender named GO, who told him about a group of kids who would practice Muay Thai (a martial art similar to kickboxing) in a jungle area nearby.

Intrigued, Drew went with GO to check out the scene, and found a variety of amiable and interesting subjects. “I saw a kid of about three or four years old kicking a tree trunk repeatedly, a boy pulling up a paint can full of concrete with his teeth alone,” he says. The photographer watched as the boys carefully applied oil and tiger balm to each other’s bodies, furiously sparring soon after.

Struck by the dedication to their craft and to each other, Drew felt immediately compelled to document the stories elapsing in real-time before his eyes. “I was told if the boys weren’t into fighting, a lot of the kids in the area would get into drugs, crime and some cases, prostitution instead.”

For Drew, the project will ideally inspire readers in the way its documentation revitalised him all those years ago. “I would love people to feel the energy, love, and passion these boys have for each other,” he adds. “The devotion to their craft and their dreams to leave the jungle and go fight in big arenas, to get money to feed their families.”

Drew Jarrett photography
Drew Jarrett photography
Drew Jarrett photography
Drew Jarrett photography
Drew Jarrett photography
Drew Jarrett photography
Drew Jarrett photography
Drew Jarrett photography

A book signing will take place at Mast Books today Thursday 19 November, 72 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009. If can’t make it you can purchase via Paradigm or The Photographers’ Gallery, London.

Credits


All images courtesy Drew Jarrett

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