Cianni, Vincent

Vincent Cianni, Brooklyn, New York, USA

Vincent Cianni is a documentary photographer whose work explores community, memory, and the human condition through image, text and audio. Cianni holds an MFA in Photography from the SUNY New Paltz and teaches photography at Parsons, the New School for Design and the International Center of Photography. Duke University’s Rubenstein Library established a study archive to insure the preservation of all his documentary projects, including negatives, contacts and correspondence. We Skate Hardcore, an eight-year documentary project of inline skaters in Williamsburg, Brooklyn published by NYU Press and the Center for Documentary Studies in 2004, was awarded the American Association of University Press Best Book Design.  A major survey of this work was exhibited at the Museum of the City of New York in 2006. His photographs have also been exhibited in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the George Eastman House as well as in London, France and Germany and published in Double Take, Aperture, The New Yorker, Photography as Activism; New York 400: A Visual History of America’s Greatest City; The Polaroid Book.

Muay-Thai Boxer Stretching, Siem Reap, Cambodia, 2004

The fighters were beautiful – sleek, powerful, cut bodies – and their kicks were more powerful than their punches. They came to the tattered ring after being oiled and massaged by their trainers on the side of the dirt arena under a large covered tent on a hot sultry night. Young boys watched in awe hoping to be boxers themselves. They dressed in elaborately decorated and colorful satin trunks and were wrapped with a towel over their shoulders. They wore a matching robe and a downward-pointing braid, a headdress of sorts, attached to their coal-black hair.

They danced up to the ring; their trainers disrobed them; the referee checked their gloves and their cups under their shorts; music began to play – traditional Khmer folk music. The boxers bowed in reverence before entering the ring, then bowed in all four corners. They began stretching in graceful dance-like motions, splaying their legs forward and behind, moving their gloved hands in a circular motion, crouching and reaching up simultaneously. Their ‘dances’ were recognizable steps in preparation of a kick – swift, powerful, and effective. They were graceful and cocky, yet had the concentration of a monk. The final stretch was a bow to the audience before they began their round.

Before the competition of Muay-Thai each competitor must perform the "Wai-Kru" ritual and perform the ancient boxing dance. "Wai-Kuru" is a way to pay respect to his majesty the king or the chairman of the competition tournament. "Wai-Kru" is the way to realize the goodness of the master who gave them knowledge. It's also the way to strengthen their mind. The style of the dance is unique for each boxing master. The boxers who dance the same style wouldn't box each other since they realize that they have the same master. Furthermore, to the dance is a means to warm up before starting the fight. It also helps to relax the stress and to prepare body and mind to ready their selves for battle.


Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collection Library, Duke University

Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro

The Kinsey Institute for Sexual Research

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

George Eastman House

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The Museum of the City of New York

The International Collection, Polaroid Corporation, Cambridge, MA

Harry Ranson Humanities Research Center, Austin, TX

The Brooklyn Museum of Art

Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA

The Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona Beach, Florida

Museet fur Fotokunst, Sweden

Bibliotheque National de France, Paris

The Buhl Collection, NYC

Reader's Digest Collection, Pleasantville, NY

Palm Springs Art Museum, FL

Brooklyn Union Gas, Brooklyn, NY

The Samuel Dorsky Museum, New Paltz, NY

Musee Pierre Noel, Saint-Die-des-Vosges, France

James Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, P

The Midtown Y Photography Gallery Collection, New York, NY

University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD


We Skate Hardcore, 2004, NYU Press and Center for Documentary Studies

Gays in the Military: How America thanled Me, 2014: Daylight Books