photoSCHWEIZ 2023
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Mattia Dagani Rio

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HYPER KALOKAGATHIA by Mattia Dagani Rio Photography and CGI, 2022 HYPER KALOKAGATHIA documents the bodybuilding world and the extremes of representation of masculinity in Western countries and man's physical perfection. The series aims to be an investigation on the concept of hypermasculinity in relation to beauty standard and aesthetic ideals of the world of bodybuilders, where codes and social constructions are taken to the extreme, challenging the stereotypical and normative ideas around masculinity. The name of the series derives from the Greek expression kalokagathìa, which denotes the ideal of man's physical and moral perfection in 5th century BC Greek culture. Kalós kái agathós, literally beautiful and good, are the characteristics of beauty according to the archaic Greek conception. The identity between beauty and virtue persists in the glorification of the nude characterizing Greek production in the 5th century BC. Bodybuilding began to take on its current connotations from the late 19th century in Europe, and is nowadays an international phenomenon with worldwide competitions. Beauty, strength, honour and courage were the fundamental traits of the Homeric hero bestowed by divinity, where the value of the body and the physical prowess were united with loyalty and with virtue, as aesthetics presents ethics. In the bodybuilding world, aesthetic ideals are taken to the extreme, carrying forward a stereotypical vision of hypermasculinity, by pushing to the limits an ideal of what is considered masculine. By mixing images made entirely in CGI and images of real bodybuilders, the project examines how masculinity is codified, interpreted and socially constructed and it embodies an introspective personal exploration of its protagonists. Nourished by a personal interest in the subject and its discourse - immediately connected to his own personal story and life experiences towards gender expectations - Dagani Rio explores the concept of masculinity, and more specifically hypermasculinity, and the visual, aesthetic and behavioral codes used to represent it in the bodybuilding context, asking questions about the idea of masculinity and the representation of it in the Western countries. The series consists of five selected images printed on mirrored aluminum panels. This material reflects light and is reminiscent of the oil that bodybuilders use during competitions to bring out their muscles.