“Nothing But Light” by Anastasia Kuba

Text and artworks by Anastasia Kuba

Nothing But Light by Anastasia Kuba
Photograph from the series ‘Nothing But Light’ by Anastasia Kuba, 2015

Artist Statement by Anastasia Kuba

Anastasia Kuba: ‘“Nothing But Light” explores concepts of boundaries,vulnerability, and consent. We all experience the world through our bodies. The body is the easiest target for disrespect, worship, objectification, shame, neglect, control, and attachment. The violation of a person’s dignity often begins with disrespect of their body, and restoration of control begins with the acknowledgment that a person’s body matters and inherently deserves respect.

We crave to be seen and accepted, but opening up, we lose control over the consequences. We have no guarantee that our trust will not be violated and boundaries will not be crossed, we risk rejection and abandonment. To protect ourselves, we hide our truth. But the more walls we build, the more isolated we feel.

Allowing someone to see your body is a form of surrender.

The task of the project is to create an empathic and respectful space for people to surrender within the boundaries of consent, so they can see themselves, and be seen as they are.’

Nothing But Light by Anastasia Kuba
Photograph from the series ‘Nothing But Light’ by Anastasia Kuba, 2015

Nothing But Light by Anastasia Kuba
Photograph from the series ‘Nothing But Light’ by Anastasia Kuba, 2015

Nothing But Light – Project Description

To create a consistent, minimalistic body of work that represents people without social implications of interiors and clothes, subjects are photographed nude in a studio: natural lighting, no make up, no Photoshop.

Participants have an option to photograph the artist nude in the same setting on their camera/phone. Both parties have to fully rely on mutual respect and communication to create collaborative art. Only images that are approved by both the artist and the subject are published or displayed. After the photographs are selected, subjects are asked to submit a statement and record an interview. Photographs and statements are only used in the context of this project.

Approved images and statements are shared on the artist’s website. Photos for the blogs and social media, including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are selected separately and require a separate consent. Subjects can refuse to have their photo posted on social media.

All participants, except the artist, may use their real names or stay anonymous. The artist is keeping a journal and a video blog to document her process. The artist will ask for permission to share any information she was trusted with during personal or online communications.

Throughout the process of the collaboration, no consent is implied or assumed, everything is discussed individually with each participant. Negotiation is always open, both parties keep the right to have a change of heart at any point.

Subjects can withdraw their photographs from the project by email. In the case of cancelation, their images will be replaced with an image of the wall they were photographed against, and their cancelation email will be quoted alongside their original statement.

The artist intends to photograph and be photographed by 100 people. Anyone over the age of 18 may apply to become a subject. The artist maintains the right to refuse participation to anyone. Participation in a project is free. Photographs are not sold individually, however they might be sold as a collection.

Nothing But Light by Anastasia Kuba
Photograph from the series ‘Nothing But Light’ by Anastasia Kuba, 2015

Nothing But Light by Anastasia Kuba
Photograph from the series ‘Nothing But Light’ by Anastasia Kuba, 2015

About Anastasia Kuba

Anastasia Kuba: ‘As a person who’s lived through a childhood trauma, I’ve struggled to define my boundaries and to understand my value. I was getting a lot of attention because I was conventionally attractive and, naturally, I assigned my worth to my body.

In my early twenties I worked as a dancer in a topless clubs; surprisingly, through this job I developed better boundaries. “No. You can’t. This is not allowed.” — I had to repeat those words over and over again until they became natural.

As I became able to advocate for myself, defining my boundaries with people closest to me still remained a challenge. As I learned to appear confident, my sense of self was still caught in a web.’

Anastasia Kuba 2015In 2008 I quit dancing and became a professional portrait photographer. I photographed hundreds of people of all genders, background and ages. My subjects are learning to recognize the beauty of their bodies unapologetically and these photo sessions, for them, continue to be a radical act of self acceptance.

My work has been published and exhibited internationally. I was the original photographer for the international “Bare” campaign by Woman Enough that went viral in 2014 and was published all over the world, in magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, and Shape.

I’ve been helping people to feel comfortable in their body for the past seven years, but I also know that beauty and integrity are not connected. I love my body, yet I am still struggling to unlink my sense of worth from other people’s opinions. I have already learned — no amount of approval from outside can help one to love oneself. Dignity lies elsewhere: in a deep understanding that respect is a human right, not something one needs to “deserve” because a person’s life and integrity are sacred.’

Zanele Muholi Shortlisted for Deutche Börse Photography Prize

Article by Lerato Dumse

Tick Tock for Deutsche Börse 2015 Prize

Exhibtion view, Zanele Muholi at The Photographers' GalleryWith less than a week remaining before we are introduced to the winner of the renowned Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2015. Predictions are still pouring in and opinions are shared from far and wide. Everyone wants to see their favourite photographer win and the shortlist has kept art circles and media talking since the announcement was made late last year.

South Africa is home to two of the nominees, Zanele Muholi for her photobook Faces and Phases 2006-14 and Mikhael Subotzky who collaborated with UK’s Patrick Waterhouse on a book that focuses on Ponte City in Johannesburg. The shortlist also features Viviane Sassen who is nominated for an exhibition titled Umbra, held at the Nederlands Fotomuseum, as well as Nikolay Bakharev, a photographer in his 60s, who captured Russian bathers in the 80s.

In the 18 years of the competition’s existence, this is the first time that an African and a South African female is shortlisted. Muholi emphasises that this nomination is a game changer and will open doors for other photographers and artists who are members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex community. The prize was established by The Photographers’ Gallery with the aim of promoting contemporary photography and was first known as Citigroup, while Deutsche Börse has sponsored the £30,000 competition since 2005.

Zanele MuholiBorn in Durban KwaZulu Natal, Muholi is a visual activist, advocating for the lives, rights and safety of the LGBTI community in South Africa; with a specific focus on black lesbians. Having embarked on a journey of archiving and documenting the lives of LGBTI people in her surroundings, she was able to produce a publication from her lifetime project of black and white portraits of African lesbians and transgender individuals.

Faces and Phases participants have fast gained a reputation for their ability to confront the camera. Muholi has also become the second black female (from four female nominees) after Lorna Simpson from the USA, to be a shortlisted recipient of the prize. 2010 was the first and last year to be dominated by females, and the only year won by a female since DB took over the prize.

On May 26, two days before the DBPP ceremony, Muholi will host her much anticipated conversation with Bidisha, from the BBC Arts. This multi award winning South African has received many astonished reactions from London based artists, especially those with Caribbean and African roots about her exhibition, talk and nomination at the Photographers Gallery.

Exhibition View: photos by Zanele MuholiMuholi’s work focuses on Post-Apartheid politics of the LGBTI community. She stresses the fact that her work is concerned about creating a historical document that makes this community visible. Identifying as a black lesbian herself, Muholi’s work shines a light on both the love and tribulations experienced by members of her community.

Maintaining her cool composure, she insists the nomination is not for her alone, but includes participants featured in her work. Muholi returns to London after opening her solo exhibition titled, Isibonelo/Evidence at Brooklyn Museum in New York City and is open until November 1 2015. She is also involved with Look3, a summer photo festival opening on June 10 2015 in the US.

Illustrations above: Exhibition view of works by Zanele Muholi at The Photographers’ Gallery, London; Self-portrait, courtesy of Zanele Muholi; Exhibition view of works by Zanele Muholi at Brooklyn Museum, New York.

Ester Fleckner – How to spell a sound that is physical

A work by Ester Fleckner
A woodcut print by Ester Fleckner.


Ester Fleckner – How to spell a sound that is physical

10 April – 9 May 2015 at Avlskarl Gallery, Bredgade 28, Copenhagen, Denmark
Opening hours: Wednesday-Friday 1 pm – 6 pm. Saturday 12 pm – 3 pm.

The exhibition How to spell a sound that is physical shows a new series of woodcut prints by Ester Fleckner. With carvings based on different attempts to depict sheets of paper, screens and racks, the prints vary in intensity, delineating the intersection of traces and layers. At close range you can read handwritten notes, which, in their fragmented form and content, go into dialogue with the prints. The works reflect Fleckner’s processual approach to language, images and physicality exploring the chaotic and insufficient links between them.

The woodcut print is a recurring media for Ester Fleckner. The technique is simple and immediate and the physical resistance of the wood, as well as the printing process allows for differences, errors and a loss of control. As organic and natural material, wood creates a physical dimension of Ester’s exploration into collisions between the body and various cultural norms and ideas.

The exhibition How to spell a sound that is physical is a continuation of Fleckner’s on-going investigation of experiences of displacement, the unfinished and failure in relation to queer navigation and the fluidity of the body.

About Ester Fleckner

Ester Fleckner (b. 1983) is educated from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen and Goldsmiths University of London.

Heart of Art Gallery

Mission statement by Kenia Gutierrez

Heart of Art Gallery

Heart of Art Gallery

Women and Queer Art Gallery and Animal Rescue

Heart of Art Gallery promotes and provides an unfiltered raw space for works of art made by women and members of the lgbt community. Heart of Art was founded by Kenia and Bell April 1st, 2012. We are an all women and queer art and music venue in south central la near USC [in Los Angeles, California]. We are dedicated to the principles of show casing talents made by women and queer artist providing them a safe creative platform for their work.

Heart of Art is also dedicated and passionate to the rescuing of injured, abused and stray animals. We provide them a home to rehabilitate, take care of expense to include medical and training to find them a second chance for a forever home. We pair each animal with a family who is ready for a new member that will provide the love and affection they desire.

Our goal is to build a friendly safe community supporting trans, women and queers in arts. Providing an alternative space for freedom expression we continue to navigate through the underground world of arts.

Heart of Art Gallery
Photo courtesy of Heart of Art Gallery

Heart of Art Gallery
Photo courtesy of Heart of Art Gallery

Rebellous Beauty
Rebellous Beauty, Heart of Art Gallery, 2014

Intermedia Artist Aja Rose Bond

Artist statement by Aja Rose Bond

Aja Rose Bond: Triangle Fort
Triangle Fort by Aja Rose Bond in collaboration with Caroline Ballhorn, Alicia Cha and Heather Dawn Jones. Photo courtesy of Aja Rose Bond.


Artist Statement by Aja Rose Bond

I am an intermedia artist with background in music, craft and fashion respectively, drawing from the deep influence of D.I.Y. punk, feminisms and magick. I identify as a witch, among other things, and this part of my life has been coming more to the surface of my creative practices in the last couple years. My spirituality is deeply connected to my work, which strives to engage mystery, create beauty, inspire and deepen meaning and connection – both to each other as people and to the web of life that includes all beings and the land, the air, the water and spirit. I help organize public and private rituals in my community, and work as a kind of advocate for ‘coming out of the broom closet’ as we call it. There are a lot of parallels and overlap between queerness and witchiness and I am totally blessed to have many amazing queer witches in my life to practice with.

I explore the interplay of the public and the private through collaborations, collective organizing, solo-projects and a variety of mediums including sound, performance, installation, textile sculpture, drawing, collage and social practice. These mediums are increasingly merging into one another in ways that are really exciting for me. As I get more opportunities as an emerging artist, I am seeing just how immersive and multi-sensory my visions truly are. My intention is to be able to combine collaborative social practices, with performance/ritual, costume, installation and sound components into one piece rather than keeping them somewhat separate, as has necessarily been the case up till now.

My intimate relationship with certain mystical traditions – specifically Reclaiming, a Feminist tradition of witchcraft, and Radical Faerie Tradition which emerged as part of the Gay Liberation Movement – has informed my process which often includes the use of ritual, divination, symbols and geometry to align and reveal the more hidden elemental and energetic aspects of the work. As I come more into my power, publicly, I feel more at liberty to speak to what the works are truly about and what was involved in making them. Again, as a parallel to queerness, there are heaps of stigma, stereotypes and misunderstandings about witchiness that sometimes make it safer to stay in the shadows, but despite this, I’m coming out (again) and it’s so amazing to see what’s happening as a result… this show coming up in NY is the first I’ve ever been in that has magick and ritual and a holy-day celebration as a central theme. It’s so wonderful and I’m really grateful to be part of it. I’m also doing a project with Gina Badger in Toronto right after this, as part of a group show called TBD at the MoCCA that also involves ritual, magick, medicine and how it can connect us to our ancestors, our complicity in settler-colonialism and deepen the process of unsettling. This intersection of art, magick, and radical politics is really where my heart is and it’s so liberating to have a voice to express this and an audience that’s excited to engage it!

While at once being a political statement and an economic necessity, the use of found and reclaimed materials is instrumental to my understanding of the subtle life within objects. Truly, I think of my materials more as subjects than objects, and I use my senses to engage them as fully as possible in the creative process. I am especially fascinated by reclaimed textiles, leather and fur (the latter two always rescued from thrift stores or free bins) and how they hold stories and information about their former lives. I feel a kind of empathy for them which compels me to find a new usefulness for these things which were so often created only to be discarded. I come from a line of “master-thrifters” and the ritual of digging through piles of old things brings me great joy and satisfaction.

My work is as much about service to my community (and perhaps less directly to the greater world) as it is a way to nourish my own being and heal myself. I have been trying lately to find ways to embody these two things simultaneously, rather than oscillating back and forth between extremes. By attempting to balance service and self-care within my practice as a whole, and by ritualizing both the process and the presentation, I try to create spaces where their boundaries may overlap or dissolve altogether. I am very invested in the power of creative process to transform our understanding of who we are in relation to the world. I feel that magick works in a very similar way, and I am so excited to be discovering ways for them to work together to be more powerful and effective.

There are so many desires, ideas and feelings behind my work, and yet it I come at it with an intentionally intuitive approach. Right now I am thinking so much about settler-colonialism, whiteness, who I am and how I got here. What it means to be engaging a land-based spiritual-practice on stolen land. What the mass extinction and environmental crisis of climate change and resource extraction mean in terms of what I will do with my “one wild and precious life”. How to break the spell of disconnection and weave a web of wholeness that can heal us and help us survive what is to come… it’s heavy in my heart and I know also that engaging with all the things that make this life so beautiful and wondrous to behold – humour, play, colour, beauty – is what I need to keep going forward. So I try to have it all.

Much of my work in the last year has been an enquiry into the nature and concept of time and an effort to expand its inherent possibilities. We can move past a simplistic representation of time as linear into one that can hold paradox, mystery and multi-dimensional realms where we may plant seeds of change that will grow and heal the past, present and future at once. The large-scale textile sculptures I will have installed at le Petit Versailles in the Lower Eastside in NY for this upcoming show are about this.

I am self-taught with the exception of some formal training in fashion arts and contemporary music. My other projects and collaborations include; The Witches* Union Hall, The STAG (Strathcona Art Gallery) Library, Craft Pride Procession, Her Jazz Noise Collective, WOEVAN (Witches of East Van), Seamrippers Craft Collective, Diadem (w/partner Gabriel Saloman), In Flux (w/members of Shearing Pinx), DJ Tapes and the Women’s Studies 10 part performance series co-produced w/VIVO Media Arts Center. I live in Vancouver [Canada] on unceded Coast Salish Territories. See more work at AJAROSEBOND.com

Upcoming exhibitions:

Turning Into Night, at le Petit Versailles, 346 East Houston St. @ Ave C, NY – Performances 8pm Fri, Sept 19, Artist talk/potluck 6pm Sat, Sept 20, Films 8pm Sat, Sept 20. [Curated by Yvette Choy, Troy La Biche Davis and Coral Short]

Brew Pub #3 and Brewtality of Fact Beer Club, with Gina Badger, Cheyenne Turions, Eric Emery and the STAG Library (artists Aja Rose Bond and Gabriel Saloman) TBD at the MoCCA, Toronto, opens Friday September 5, 2014.

Aja Rose Bond: Zero/One
Zero/One by Aja Rose Bond. Photo courtesy of Aja Rose Bond

Aja Rose Bond: Unity Braid
Unity Braid by Aja Rose Bond. Photo by Kenneth Yuen.