Anastasia Kuba is an artist based in San Francisco California.
“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. 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.
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. Photographs and statements are only used in the context of this project.
All participants, except the artist, may use their real names or stay anonymous. 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.
Anyone over the age of 18 may apply to become a subject. The artist maintains the right to refuse participation to anyone. Photographs are not sold individually, however they might be sold as a collection.
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 value 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 grew able to advocate for myself in most situations, defining my boundaries with people closest to me still remained a challenge. As I learned to act certain, my internal sense of value was still caught in a web.
In 2008 I quit dancing and became a professional portrait photographer. I photographed 100s of people of all genders, background and ages who are learning to recognize the beauty of their bodies unapologetically. To my subjects this photo sessions are a radical act of self acceptance.
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.
That self love lies elsewhere, in a deep understanding that respect is a human right, not something one needs to “deserve”, because person’s life and integrity are sacred.