The Whitney Museum chooses silence in an effort to displace, downplay, and negate valid public outrage regarding their policies, ethics and leadership. By Jamara Wakefield May 17th marked the start of the 79th Whitney Biennial. The Biennial is a contemporary art exhibition, featuring typically young and lesser-known artists, at the Whitney Museum of American Art […]
Nude Photo Series Explores Boundaries, Vulnerability, and Consent
“Nothing But Light” is a photo series by internationally-acclaimed photographer Anastasia Kuba that explores the concepts of boundaries, vulnerability, and consent. Kuba’s work is radical because of her wide range of subjects, choosing to honor a diversity of bodies that are rarely the focus of the camera. The natural light truly seems to bring out each person’s expression and you can see the compassion that the artist has for each of her subjects.
Photographer Kuba created the project because “Allowing someone to see your body is a form of surrender. I see the project as a way 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.”
They further describe the project’s purpose as “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 makeup, no Photoshop.”
Kuba has an interesting background which helped solidify boundaries for her. In her twenties, she was a topless dancer. Negotiating boundaries was a constant issue, and she became very comfortable with saying “no” or “this is not allowed.”
While stating boundaries with strangers may have been simple and began to come naturally after a while, the artist found it difficult to create those same safe, healthy boundaries with friends and family. They have been photographing people for the last seven years.
Kuba explores those boundaries with her subjects and builds relationships with them in the process. In order to truly solidify the relationship with the subject, Kuba allows them to photograph her nude with their own camera or phone. “Both parties have to fully rely on mutual respect and communication to create collaborative art,” says Kuba.
An interesting aspect of this project is that Kuba truly respects the consent of the individual being photographed. There are no blanket model release forms; each venue of display is explicitly agreed upon, and negotiation is always open. The models have the right to pull their photos at any point with an email. If that participant cancels, their image is replaced on the wall with that email, right beside their original participant statement.
“I’ve been helping people to feel comfortable in their body for the past 7 years and I understand how important it is, but I also know that beauty and integrity are not connected. I love my body, but I am still struggling to unlink my sense of worth from people’s perceptions. I have already learned that no amount of approval of any kind can help one to love oneself,” says Kuba.
She continues, “Self-love 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.”
Kuba is based in the Bay area. Her studio is wheelchair accessible and she hopes to photograph bodies with a multitude of capabilities. To explore more of the photographer’s work or book a shoot, please visit AnastasiaKuba.com. She is currently booking subjects for the continuation of “Nothing But Light.” You can contact Anastasia here.