Photography Bodybuilders As Builders Of Another Body
Photographydocumentary photographyreportage

Bodybuilders As Builders Of Another Body

Photographer Alien explains it through the new alternative drag scene and club kids
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Giorgia Massari
alien | Collater.al

In the most common sense of the term, “bodybuilder” refers to the practice we all know, which has “as its ultimate goal the change of body composition,” in other words, bodybuilding. If we analyze the term itself, it refers to “the constructor of a body,” which, if taken out of context, could refer to many practices. It is in this perspective that the artist Alien uses Bodybuilders as the title of their photographic and video project, with the intention of documenting the new alternative drag and club kids scene in different parts of the world. The undisputed protagonist is the body that becomes another body. Just as it happens for bodybuilders, who tend towards a progressive reduction of their body fat percentage, we all tend towards a modification of our bodies every day, through the food we consume and through any form of embellishment, from makeup to hairstyles. All for an identity construction, personal, intimate, and subjective, that can communicate who we are.

In this sense, flipping through the pages of Alien’s book makes it clear that the niche – part of the queer world – she analyzes is even more emblematic. As Helen Hester, Professor of Gender, Technology, and Cultural Politics at the University of West London and author of the Xenofeminist manifesto, writes in the introduction to the first volume of BODYBUILDERS 01: Each person photographed has somehow constructed themselves, channeling not only personal aesthetics, cultural reference points, and intellectual ideas but also unconscious forces – the unknown within us that necessarily finds expression in all our words, actions, thoughts, and behaviors.

alien | Collater.al
Bodybuilders 01 by Alien; performer Sonora

With this premise, photographer Alien delves into the British drag world, focusing the first chapter of BODYBUILDERS on the UK scene. Attention is placed on individual characters; specifically, there are thirty prominent artists in the scene, including Bo Quinn, Sonora, Spook, Shrek 666, Jenkin Van Zyl, Trashedbaby, Laura Bowels, all engaged in a personal and intimate exploration of their own identity. What catches the eye are their outrageous outfits, eccentric makeup, and all the artificial prostheses that serve as extensions of the body itself, both in a concrete and theoretical perspective. Looking with a more abstract eye at the poses they assume in the shots, one realizes that it is precisely their attitude that accentuates the distortion of their bodies, which sounds like a decisive assertion of the self striving for recognition, as painful as it is legitimate.

alien | Collater.al
Alien, Jenkin Van Zyl

Thus, to cite the starting point, namely “construction of another body,” Alien emphasizes how in this tension towards the different, the term “another” actually overlaps with the self. An aesthetic, concrete, and physical construction that increasingly seeks to resemble the abstract, hidden identity within the psyche and, more generally, the essence. Alien’s work is truly a documentation and reportage, immortalizing in all their vibrant beauty the representatives of the drag world in full self-glorification.

alien | Collater.al
Leo Monira (Spook), Shadow on green
alien | Collater.al
Alien, Shrek
Photographydocumentary photographyreportage
Written by Giorgia Massari
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