Alpha

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Alpha, the first letter of the Greek alphabet, is used to identify a dominant male in a group or pack situation. When the word alpha is applied to men it likewise refers to a status of dominance solely amongst men: women are nowhere to be found in this equation.

Within a zoological context, the term Alpha implies a wild, primitive masculine norm in which virility is implied by strength and that strength in turn implies a threat of physical violence. Since Alpha does not merely infer power or dominance but implies it over other men, homoeroticism, to different degrees, is embedded.

Renditions of this embedment have appeared throughout art history. Ever since Greek statuary presented the perfect male form, interpretations and reinterpretations have been endless. Even though a heteronormative masculine ideal might have been what was chosen to be presented, essentially from today’s perspective, it is homoeroticism which seems abundant..

The aim of the collection of photographs presented within the parameters of this exhibition therefore, is to highlight and bring to the fore imagery which reflects male power structures, dominance, violence, homoeroticism and the masculine form. Thus, a contemporary conversation contextualising or in some cases decontextualising these elements will allow the implied homo/erotic content to be explicitly drawn out and discussed. [1]

Many will argue that within a human social context, any notion of the alpha male has long been dead and buried. There are exceptions of course, and within certain realms and environments, a reflection of the so-called dominant male virtues continues to thrive.

Through a set of works which mirror and ping-pong each other to different degrees, the aim of ALPHA is to challenge the viewer’s preconceptions. Matthew Attard Navarro’s portraits of Oly Innes for example, quickly enforce one particular stereotype of what a dominant male could be like. Leather gear, tattoos, piercings, eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses... some might find this mildly (or not so mildly) intimidating whilst there are others for whom this is fantasy embodied.

Andy Houghton’s pistol wielding faceless men and Joseph Wolfgang Ohlert’s masked individual both enforce the notion that violence (as objectified by the gun and the transmutation of the face), cause fear and subsequently subservience by those who succumb to them. The anonymity found in both these photographers’ works is echoed and stretched much further through the works of Thobias Malmberg and Julian Vassallo whose males, albeit to different degrees are sheer physique and nothing beyond that.

The works of Joey Leo and Ritty Tacsum conclude the exhibition. Leo’s alpha male may be described as a work in progress, a wannabe who fantasises about becoming the action hero he holds so dear. Will he succeed? Tacsum’s subject may be out to prove that being at the top is a lonely place after all and whether it boils down to vanity or self-satisfaction, even the alpha male may prefer fiction to reality. [2]

Curator: Fabrizio Mifsud Soler.

Artists

Exhibition

Alpha front door.jpg

External links

References