Anastasia Kuba is a photographer with the spirit of a seasoned director.
Her presence is discreet, but her will is uncompromising.
Her honesty as severe and unrelenting as gravity.
I feel as though she approaches her art like an investigation.
Trying to still reality from that fake haze we often present to protect ourselves.
I was translucent when I arrived in that studio.
I fell into existence when she noticed I was curling my toes.
To Anastasia, all practiced body language is evidence of a sham.
Your Snapchat expression is merely misdirection.
Your smile is a intricate puzzle.
Your status, suddenly meaningless.
Isn't that terrifying?
There's a look in her eye that always demands something more real.
Beyond what we've been told is acceptable.
To her, the armour of society is nothing more than a block.
She'll dare to take it from you in an effort to reach a better truth.
Even if only for a moment.
In a lot of ways, I think a narcissist like me makes the perfect case for her work.
After all, I accepted Anastasia's offer in a thread over Facebook.
Their algorithm would bleach clean your screen of her intentions.
But I had to take up the challenge so I wouldn't look chickenshit.
I went to Anastasia because she's my friend!
I will always support her and have long respected her.
I have friends who follow a different path with their craft, though.
Those who have accepted a degree of falsehood in exchange for fiat currency.
I can't blame them for making those checks.
All this nudity is just... strangely complex.
In contrast, Anastasia lives simply, honestly, and makes great tea.
She is a woman who wants for nothing... except the essentials.
She's a spiritual surgeon looking for true humility using natural light.
She wants to remind us that we should want to be as bold as to see ourselves for who we truly are.
The image of each of us, armourless, should bring us a smile.
Ours is a society which does not readily accept this notion.
The idea disrupts common sexuality and the identity of the digital age shopper.
How much have you ever spent on shoes made by children bearing another man's name?
If you always put it that way, would you still buy them to become someone you're not?
You know what looks better than shoes or a bag?
To be beautiful for just existing.
Can you buy trauma at Nordstrom.
Would you have worn it to prom?
If I saw you broken, I would give you a hug.
If I saw you broken, and you smiled and gave me a hug, then we'll never lose to pain again.
That's powerful, isn't it?
There are people who have well adjusted to systems of untrust.
The practiced smile and the angles of Instagram are all the rage, I hear.
Anything else is insane.
But so what.
Anastasia lets you take off your clothes in front of her so she can take pictures.
To some, if not most, this is more impeachable than violent crimes.
We should hide the body... and forget ourselves.
But that's not what I think.
I've spent years learning how to come into existence.
I have fought madness, sorrow, strain and darkness.
And I'm still, happily, a student of the universe.
Anastasia taught me an important aspect of magic for my endless journey.
She told me, in fewer words, that to be raw is to become real.
That's what the soul is.
It is the thing that comes to life the moment you can smile at what you are without pretending.
And if we can share that, then we might just finally figure out that we're all the same.
And that we don't have to forget ourselves out of shame.