Aneta Bartos - INTERVIEW

Par Laetitia Allal,

Who is Aneta Bartos?
I was born in a small town called Tomaszow Mazowiecki in Poland. I grew up at my grandmother’s old house and spent most of my days playing with friends in the near by forest and a lake.
At the age of 16, I came to the States to visit my mother who moved here 8 years before and I ended up staying.

Aneta Bartos - Tom_2011

Aneta Bartos, Boys - Tom, 2011.

When, how and why you became a photographer...?
I signed up for a photography class in high school. I lacked technical knowledge, but I had intuition when it came to capturing the right moment with the right lighting. It came natural to me and I felt I could communicate as I didn’t speak any English at the time.
Photography remained a hobby until the second year of collage when I finally began to sense it was becoming very important to me.

Aneta Bartos - TogetherAneta Bartos - INTERVIEW
Aneta Bartos,Resurrection - untitled III.
Aneta Bartos, Resurrection - Together.

What photographers/artists/directors… have been the greatest influences?
For a long time I never bothered to learn about other artists besides what was taught in school. In a way, I preferred not to be affected by others and shape my own style without much influence. In collage I remember loving the romantic and soft images of Julia Margaret Cameron, Rembrandt’s fascinating use of light and shadow, the Pictorialist photographs of Edward Steichen and beautifully staged as well as the terrifying photos by Joe Peter Witkin. In later years, I discovered the controversial nude photos of adolescence girls by David Hamilton and admiring the undeniable talent of Picasso, Klimt, De Kooning, Francis Bacon and Hans Bellmer.

Aneta Bartos -Spider Monkey-Sea Monster,2011.

Aneta Bartos, Spider Monkey - Sea Monster,2011.

Your work is very pictorial, close to painters' work. Is it a will to give this impression?
Painterly quality of a photograph is something I have always been aesthetically drawn to. I have an obvious fascination with the past and it’s classical element.

Aneta Bartos - Brian 2012Aneta Bartos - Igor 2012
Aneta Bartos,Boys- Brian,2012.
Aneta Bartos,Boys- Igor,2012.

You are a fashion photographer and also an art photographer: how can you match these to «worlds»?
I have done work in both fields, but for the past 3 years I have completely distanced myself from fashion and fully concentrated on my personal projects.
I began with fine arts, majoring in photography at the School of Visual Arts. One of my first projects was called ‘Resurrection’. I photographed men and couples naked in old, dark environments using long exposures and playing with movement to capture an eerie reflection of the body’s spirit in the moment.
Soon after graduating and having tons of school loans and and being broke, I was encouraged to shoot model's portfolios as a way to make money, which eventually led me to getting involved with fashion. After 6 years I realized I had little interest in commerce and decided to go back to my roots, where I could freely communicate my artistic expression without any boundaries and restrictions opposed to fashion, where I constantly felt limited.

Aneta Bartos - Resurrection -untitled XI.

Aneta Bartos - Resurrection -untitled XI.

In a few words, how would you define your DNA?
Half wild-half domestic feline.

Aneta Bartos - Resurrection -untitled X.

Aneta Bartos - Resurrection -untitled X.

What is your art theory?
I don’t have one.

Aneta Bartos -Spider monkeys- Twins, 2011.Aneta Bartos - Boys - Rob, 2012.

Aneta Bartos -Spider monkeys- Twins, 2011.
Aneta Bartos -Boys- Rob, 2012.

Sex and sexuality seem to be your main sources of inspiration: Why?
Sexuality has played a major role in my recent projects. Throughout history you can see an undeniable connection between sex and human spirit, which has been our pursuit of a deeper meaning of human existence. It has played a fundamental role in formations in religions, cultures, and taboos, which are held to affect the whole of society, by changing the physical world.

Aneta Bartos -Spider monkeys- creature_2011.

Aneta Bartos -Spider monkeys- creature_2011.

Nudity and eroticism are essential part of your work too. Why?
I’m intrigued by human bodies as a spiritual, magical and mysterious energy, which appears to us as a thinking being, but we know nothing of what they might be in themselves.
It’s my journey into the psyche of the body, where my passions, fears and taboos find it’s home.

Aneta Bartos -Spider monkeys- spiderm_2011.

Aneta Bartos -Spider monkeys- Spiderm_2011.

Your approach is, sometimes, close to voyeurism is it a will?
Voyeurism in my work falls much deeper than just simple pleasure of looking. I’m exploring myself through others in a hope to experience something unexplainable and new.

Aneta Bartos - 4 Sale Blue 2010Aneta Bartos,  4 sale-crouch, 2010

Aneta Bartos, 4 sale, Blue 2010.
Aneta Bartos, 4 sale-crouch, 2010.

4 Sale was a special project where you and 3 other female artists (Martynka Wawrzyniak, Elle Muliarchyk, Yana Toyber ) – explored the female nature in a psychological and intimate way. Could you please explain us the concept? And Why such a project?
The original concept for 4 Sale was to explore the roles of exhibitionist and a voyeur as well as female sexuality.
Each of us worked from our own, personal point of view, developing different approach and delivering a unique message.
My aim was to open myself up to honesty in exploring my reflections of the perplexities of women in gender politics.
I wanted to create self sufficient, sexually and dangerously charged world of females, completely independent of men and their gaze, which is known to have always dominated and ruled the world.

Aneta Bartos, 4 Sale -Piss, 2010

Aneta Bartos, 4 Sale- Piss, 2010.

Why did you accept such a project?
It was during the time when I stopped shooting fashion to go back to fine arts, and during a breakup from a very manipulative and controlling relationship I was in. It was perfect timing for creative freedom to liberate myself as a woman as well as an artist !!!

Has this project changed something in your photography approach?
It had made me more conscious of entrenched patriarchic approach in the arts and society, which I began to challenge in my work as well as in my everyday life.

Aneta Bartos - 4 Sale-Feed, 2010.Aneta Bartos - 4 Sale-Nightmare, 2010.

Aneta Bartos -4 Sale - Feed, 2010.
Aneta Bartos - 4 Sale - Nightmare, 2010.

When, how and why did you decide to shoot self-pleasuring men?
In 2010 I decided to go further then empowering female perspective and unlike much feminine dialog that cries out for freedom and equality by means of exposed reflection of insight, I took a step further by grabbing the reigns of my expression and ‘manhandle’ the gaze. I wanted to reverse the roles and create a’ female gaze’, a phenomenon which still seems unexplored and controversial.

Aneta Bartos, Nick, 2011.Aneta Bartos - Mikki, 2011
Aneta Bartos,Boys - Nick, 2011.
Aneta Bartos,Boys - Mikki,2011.

Is it difficult for a woman photographer to ask men to masturbate for her?
Yes, very much so. Most men don’t feel comfortable being objectified by women. It makes them feel vulnerable. But some understand that even though it might be a power position, they finally want to be known, but not as most men traditionally understand.

Aneta Bartos - Boys, Chris, 2011

Aneta Bartos - Boys, Chris, 2011.

Now, could you introduce your work Spider Monkeys? Why did you choose Spider Monkey's symbol to be associated with sexual deviants?
I decided to create something falling past a human category. Creature that exists beyond ecstasy and verges on terror, the way all orgasms invite a sense of death the moment the pleasure is so intense the ego is destroyed and all is just addictive release.
I called the series ‘Spider Monkeys’ which the Mayans saw as sexual deviants. Half human-half animal creatures, with long spider legs is my take on duality in human nature : attraction and repulsion. It’s a narcissistic reflection, an alter ego, where 2 parts of a whole make up separate personalities. Something that every human struggles with and try to suppress or hide. ‘Spider Monkeys’ is where opposites meet and merge. A place of danger and transcendence, where one can get lost but another found, yet another reborn.

Aneta Bartos -Spider monkeys- turtle, 2012

Aneta Bartos -Spider monkeys- turtle, 2012

Spider Monkeys, half human half animal creatures, is it a way to flout conventions?
I think all my recent projects play on that.

And are you trying to catch the unconscious of sexuality through your pictures?
Most of my ideas come from the subconscious. I see an image before I know the concept. It’s like waking from a dream and trying to make sense. It’s a place where everything has it’s symbol and a hidden meaning to be explored or…. remain a mystery .

Aneta Bartos -Spider monkeys- Expectant_2012

Aneta Bartos -Spider monkeys- Expectant_2012

What do you hope to achieve through your work?
I think of my work as my child carrying and passing on my genes after I’m long gone.

Aneta Bartos -Spider monkeys- Seahorse_2012

Aneta Bartos -Spider monkeys- Seahorse_2012

What's your dream project?
Any projects with freedom of creativity is a dream project, big budget helps also.

Aneta Bartos -Spider monkeys- Hopper_2012

Aneta Bartos -Spider monkeys- Hopper_2012

What's the next step for you?
I’m currently working on my solo show for the ‘Boys’ series, opening this winter as well as my first short film. I’m also continuing ‘Spider Monkeys’ and hopefully having my first book published within the next year.

What's your next obsession?
Vanity aging, death …. I have been working on a brand new project relating to these issues since last winter.

Aneta Bartos