“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.’

Obituary: Honey Lee Cottrell (1946–2015)

Media release distributed by Gerard Koskovich, San Francisco, Sept. 24, 2015. Below: Honey Lee Cottrell. Photo courtesy of Brenda J. Marston.

Honey Lee Cottrell (1946–2015): Lesbian Photographer, Filmmaker and

Pioneer of Women’s Erotica, Dies at Age 69

Honey Lee Cottrell (1946-2015)Honey Lee Cottrell, a visionary photographer and filmmaker who pioneered lesbian erotica in the 1980s through her contributions to the women’s erotica magazine On Our Backs, died on Monday, Sept. 21, in Santa Cruz, California. The cause was pancreatic cancer. She was 69 years old.

Cottrell revolutionized the female nude, validated women’s right to pleasure, and opened possibilities for women to see themselves and their desires in new ways through her engagement in a variety of feminist, artistic, and sex education projects.

She studied at the National Sex Forum and was a member of San Francisco Sex Information in the 1970s. She co-authored I Am My Lover, a 1978 feminist book celebrating masturbation that she created with Joani Blank and Tee Corinne. She was an early member of the Lesbian and Gay History Project, founded in late 1978 in San Francisco.

In 1981, Cottrell received a BA in film studies from San Francisco State University. She was director and camera for Sweet Dreams starring Pat Califia (National Sex Forum, 1980), and from 1985 to the early 90s, a cinematographer for Fatale Video, the first lesbian-created erotic movie company.

She was one of the “core four,” along with Debi Sundahl, Nan Kinney, and Susie Bright, who gave On Our Backs its style and success. When it started in 1984, she proposed a “Bulldagger of the Month” centerfold for the first issue. She explained that the idea was “to stand this Playboy centerfold idea on its head from, I would say, a feminist perspective… what would I do if I was a centerfold and how can I reflect back to them our values?” Her idea was not to be “the regular kind of centerfold, but something that will make a difference, shake people up, show the other side of the mirror.” Cottrell was a contributing photographer to On Our Backs for seven years.

She photographed her lovers and friends and documented queer and kink cultures for decades with her first camera, a 35 mm Nikkormat. She was exacting and precise in the photographs and collages she created, as well as in her dark room work. She studied with Ruth Bernhard, who invited Cottrell to be her printer. In addition to I Am My Lover and On Our Backs, her still photography has appeared in publications including The Blatant Image, Coming to Power, Sinister Wisdom, and Nothing But the Girl.

Her exhibitions include shows at 848 Community Space in San Francisco, the Bacchanal in Albany, California, The Gay and Lesbian Historical Society of Northern California (now known as the GLBT Historical Society), the NAME gallery in Chicago, and her images were part of Cornell University’s Speaking of Sex exhibition.

“The lesbian gaze meant that there was a contemplation,” she said, “a restraint, a sincerity and a warrior-quality. This lesbian look was compelling. While your heterosexual woman model might compel the rest of the world to look at her, a lesbian was addressing you.”

Born in Astoria, Oregon, on January 16, 1946, the elder of two children, she grew up in Michigan. After completing a year at Michigan State University in 1964-65, Cottrell worked at the Technicolor photo processing lab. As she later discovered, a number of lesbians were working there, having discovered it was a fairly safe place for butch women to work. Cottrell was invited to visit one of these women, Harriet DeVito, who had moved to New York City, and then ended up driving across country with her to California in 1966. Along the way, Cottrell discovered what her feelings for women meant to her, and Harriet became her first lover.

Once she arrived in San Francisco, she made it her home and became deeply involved in the creative lesbian community of artists, photographers, and film-makers in the Bay Area, as well as the progressive sex education activists. She opened her apartment on Bessie Street to friends and artists, helping find jobs and shelter for people in need.

To support her artistic work, Cottrell worked in two unions. As a member of the Marine Cooks and Stewards, she was able to fulfill her dream of travel to South Pacific where her father Duane Cottrell had served in WWII. She worked as a banquet waiter in Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union in the 1980s and 90s, retiring in 2012. A proud union member, she walked many a picket line protesting the mistreatment of workers especially recent immigrant populations working as room cleaners at San Francisco hotels.

Gayle Rubin, anthropologist and theorist of sex and gender politics, notes:

“[Honey Lee] was never someone who put herself out front…. She was more of a quiet observer, but a persistently potent presence. She had a kind of strength and solidity that seemed to anchor things around her; as if she provided the gravity that held various circling planets in their stable orbits. And she just kept generating images, events, relationships, connections.”

Cottrell loved the outdoors and studied herbal medicine, native plants, and botany. With this perspective and perhaps with her photographer’s training to notice interesting small moments of daily life, she went through her illness and death with a combination of butch swagger and serenity, a confidence that everything would be alright. She continued to direct photo shoots and art installations, and found delights in each changing day.

Two weeks before her death, Cottrell had the energy one day for a road trip, lunch at a favorite Middle Eastern deli with longtime and new friends, and a walk in the redwoods. No one was surprised that she crawled under caution tape and a Do Not Enter sign to get to her favorite tree, a spot where she had often brought her daughter, Aretha Bright.

Past lovers and family members came to visit Cottrell in her last 40 days, and she died at peace in her home in Santa Cruz. She is survived by her mother Patricia Cottrell, brother Michael Cottrell, and daughter Aretha Bright, and her life companions Melinda Gebbe, Amber Hollibaugh, and Susie Bright.

Racing Age by Angela Jimenez

Text: excerpt from Angela Jimenez’ newsletter

Kickstarter project Racing Age by Angela Jimenez (2015)

Racing Age

is a documentary photography book about masters track & field athletes of retirement age and older.

Angela Jimenez: ‘I’m working on my second book, Racing Age, a documentary series on fierce and amazing masters track & field athletes of retirement age and over. Please consider supporting my Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to publish a book about these tremendous athletes. You can pre-order the book and get other rewards by backing the project.

We are 20% funded with 24 days left to go!

I started this work in 2007, while finishing Welcome Home. This summer, I hit the track again to make new work. Met amazing people at the National Senior Games in my Minneapolis hometown. Wrote and photographed a piece about the World Masters Championships in Lyon, France for The New York Times sports section and the LENS blog: New York Times sports section. Sunday August 16, 2015.’


Press release by Open Eye Gallery

Copyright Zanele Muholi
Lebo Leptie Phume Daveyton Johannesburg 2013 © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York.


Open Eye Gallery
19 Mann Island
Liverpool Waterfront, Liverpool, UK

Artist Talk: Tuesday 15 September, 6-8pm
Zanele Muholi: Visual Activism / Bethini III
Press View: Thursday 17 September, 12-4pm
Preview Night: Thursday 17 September, 6-8pm

Zanele Muholi

is a South African photographer and visual activist whose work explores gender, race and sexuality, particularly in relation to South African society and political landscape. The exhibition at Open Eye Gallery is the first major presentation of Muholi’s work in the UK.

In 2009 Muholi wrote a thesis mapping the visual history of black lesbian identity and politics in post Apartheid South Africa as part of her MFA in Documentary Media from Ryerson University, Toronto.

Since 2004 Muholi has exhibited extensively worldwide, most recently at the Brooklyn Museum (NYC). She has also taken part in important exhibition platforms such as the 55th Venice Biennale and Documenta 13 in Kassel. She is the recipient of numerous prizes and one of 2015 shortlisted photographers for the Deutsche Börse Prize for her seminal series, Faces and Phases.

Four of Muholi’s projects will be presented across Open Eye Gallery’s three exhibition spaces, accompanied by audio/video interviews and statements from those featured in Muholi’s work.

Faces and Phases (2006–15) is an ongoing series of work, a living and growing collection of portraits. Zanele Muholi embarks on a journey of “visual activism” to ensure black queer and transgender visibility. Despite South Africa’s progressive Constitution and twenty years of democracy, black lesbians and transgender men remain the targets of brutal hate crimes and so-called corrective rapes. More than 200 portraits, accompanied by moving testimonies, present a compelling statement about the lives and struggles of these individuals. They also comprise an unprecedented and invaluable archive: marking, mapping and preserving an often invisible community for posterity.

ZaVa (2013) focuses on Muholi’s relationship with her white partner, and brings the notion of making the private public to the fore. The images show the two of them sharing intimate moments in hotel rooms in various states of undress. The images are soft and gentle, and the viewer is able to get a sense of their relationship, their love for each other, in a deeply connected and meaningful way – not in a detached, voyeuristic sense.

Brave Beauties (2013-2014) is a series of 12 black and white photographs celebrating looking at the body – and the experience of being seen. Stylish, coy, subtle and proud, the gay and transgender men present a personal vision of themselves to the compassionate lens of Zanele’s camera. In a state where expressing the physical self that you want to be adored can lead to aggression and violent persecution, the beauties of the series are even more so for their bravery.

For Muholi, Mo(u)rning (2014) evokes death but also suggests the cycle of life as morning follows night. Life and death, love and hate are themes that run throughout her work. Tragic loss is addressed in this series, the persecution of a community and the coming together to remember those who have passed.

The exhibition is supported by HOMOTOPIA and Stevenson Cape Town.

copyright Zanele Muholi
Somizy Sincwala, Parktown, 2014 © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy Of Stevenson, Cape Town And Johannesburg.



Artist statement:

On the 30th July 2015 Thabo Molefe (47) was sentenced to 22 years in jail for
raping and murdering a lesbian, Lihle Sokhela (28), in 2014, Daveyton,
Johannesburg, South Africa.

Part of my talk will focus on experiences – traumas of documenting hate crimes as a visual activist. I will also talk about the importance of collaborations and collectivism as most of the work that I do is done with participants in my projects and members of Inkanyiso.

Over the past 10 years I have witnessed crime scenes of lesbian murders and attended funerals to document the realities of pain and loss. The presentation will feature visual works from various related events that impact on the lives of black South African lesbians, including how dead bodies are discarded and how those who survive are left disfigured.

In Faces and Phases, photos and quotes from participants are showcased as a way in which we advocate for visibility, resistance and agency, and aims to foster a dialogue informed by the reality of our existence as we continue to experience our lives as citizens of SA, discouraged from living openly, fearing for our safety.

Bathini is a Zulu expression meaning ‘What are they saying?’ which is a question never asked when a black lesbian is ‘curatively’ raped and murdered. The making of Faces and Phases will also form part of my presentation.


Homotopia is an arts and social justice organisation. It draws on the LGBT experience to unite and regenerate communities through the production, promotion and commissioning of great art, heritage and culture for everyone. The Homotopia Festival, which was founded in2004, takes place every November across Liverpool. Throughout the year Homotopia works with international partners, most recently in Finland, Latvia and Germany. Homotopia is funded by Arts Council England as a National Portfolio Organisation and by Liverpool City Council. Festival Dates: 30 October – 1 December 2015 – www.homotopia.net


Founded in 1977 Open Eye Gallery is an independent not-for-profit photography gallery based in Liverpool. One of the UK’s leading photography spaces, Open Eye Gallery is the only gallery dedicated to photography and related media in the North West of England.(…). As well as presenting a programme of international, high-quality exhibitions Open Eye Gallery houses a permanent Archive containing photographs dating from the 1930s to the present day. The gallery also commissions Wall Works – largescale graphic art installations for the external facade of the gallery.

Light Work Artist-in-Residence Zanele Muholi

Press release by Light Work

Join us for an artist talk by current Light Work Artist-in-Residence Zanele Muholi
Thursday, August 27, 2015 at 7:30pm
Light Work / Watson Theater, Robert B. Menschel Media Center, Syracuse University, NY, USA.

A self-described “visual activist,” South African artist Zanele Muholi, has dedicated her work and life to increasing the visibility of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. Despite South Africa’s laws forbidding discrimination based on sexuality, violent crimes against gays and women have in- creased. Muholi’s self-proclaimed mission is ‘to re-write a black queer and trans visual history of South Africa for the world to know of our resistance and existence at the height of hate crimes in SA and beyond’.

Zanele Muholi has won numerous awards including the Ryerson Alumni Achievement Award, 2015 and the Fine Prize for an emerging artist at the 2013 Carnegie International. Her Faces and Phases series has been shown at Docu- menta 13, the South African Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale, the 29th São Paulo Biennale, among others. She was shortlisted for the 2015 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize for her publication Faces and Phases: 2006-14 (Steidl/The Walther Collection). Muholi is an Honorary Professor of the University of the Arts, Bremen.

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