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Charles Fairbanks

Charles Fairbanks


McGregor 234
phone: 937-708-9581

Assistant Professor of Media Art

Charles is a wrestler and filmmaker whose recent work focuses on Lucha Libre in Mexico, where the artist fights as the One-Eyed Cat (El Gato Tuerto) with a camera built into his mask. While in graduate school, he worked as the wrestling coach/choreographer for the University Productions staging of Claire Luckham’s Trafford Tanzi—a feminist play directed by Malcolm Tulip. In 2010 Werner Herzog chose him for the first Rogue Film School, and in 2011 Anthology Film Archives hosted the retrospective screening Tender Muscles: Five Films by Charles Fairbanks. He has worked as translator (Festival Filmer à Tout Prix), as programmer and producer (Courtisane Festival), and as visiting professor of VideoArte (at Tuxtla’s UNICACH). He is a 2012 recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, a prestigious academic honor presented to scholars “who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.” Fairbanks has a BA in art and science, technology, and society from Stanford University, and an MFA from the University of Michigan.


M.F.A., University of Michigan,
B.A., Art and Science, Technology, & Society, Stanford University
Werner Herzog’s Rogue Film School, 2010
Sound Image Culture Master Class, Brussels, 2008–09


  • Tumü Musokyuy (2013) length TBD, Mexico
  • Flexing Muscles (2012) 21 minutes, Mexico / USA
  • Irma (2010) 12 minutes, Mexico / USA
  • Wrestling with my Father (2010) 5 minutes, USA
  • The Men (2010) 3 minutes, USA
  • Pioneers (2009) 35 minutes, USA / Belgium

Festival Screenings & Awards

  • Select Screenings: Anthology Film Archives (New York), ATA (San Francisco), Black Maria (touring festival), SilverDocs (Washington, DC), Slamdance (Park City, Utah), The Ross (Lincoln, Nebraska), Cinéma Galeries (Brussels, Belgium), Festival Internacional de Morelia (Mexico), Videonale (Germany), FIFEQ (Montreal), CUFF (Chicago), FLEXfest (Florida), KLEX (Malasia), Visions du Réel (Switzerland), Images Festival (Canada), PLAY-DOC (Spain), IndieLisboa (Portugal).
  • Film Festival Awards: CPH:DOX, Oxford Film Festival, ICdocs, Gangrene Comedy Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Official Best of Fest Awards, Carolina Film Festival, VIDEOMEDEJA, Stuttgart Filmwinter.

lectures & publications

  • “Globalizing Masculinity: post-NAFTA wrestling and the televisual traffic of gender across the U.S. / Mexico border,” presented at the American Anthropological Association conference (San Francisco), 2012
  • “Herramientas Abiertas: Retos, trazas, y vías posibles del video ciudadano en la época digital,” presented at the Encuentro Internacional de Cine Etnográfico (Oaxaca, Mexico), 2012
  • Tepoztlán Institute, Mexico, 2010
  • Microresidency and Lecture, Kitchen Budapest, February 2009
  • “Staging Truth and Performing the Nation: Choreographies of Border Militarism in Early Nonfiction Cinema”
  • Research paper for the History in the Making Conference: Sources of Controversy (Montreal) 2008
  • “We Cannot Be Colorblind,” op-ed article for the Michigan Daily about Proposition 2, election day 2006
  • Writer, Consultant, and Artist for Reframing Photography: Theory and Practice (Routledge, 2010), 2006
  • Emerging Digerati Lecture, Institute for New Media Studies, Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, 2005
  • Hired by Fortune magazine to photograph Pro-Wrestlers for their August 1, 2005, issue
  • PDN Photo-Annual: Year’s Best Photography 2003