Art history is replete with representations of the female form. The vast majority of the women depicted, however, have participated only passively in the process. Relegated to the role of muse or model, they have been simply objectified or idealized – and consequently depersonalized. Anna Bloda both draws from and subverts this tradition. Her work is distinguished by how she fuses the complexity of her subjects’ carnal identities with her own creative vision.
Bloda’s artistic impetus arises from an unlikely combination: a fascination with pornography and a search for inner innocence. “When I was around fourteen years old, I discovered some pornographic movies, and they were shocking to me. I had never realized that people could act in this way,” she recalls. Growing up in highly conservative Communist Poland, she had never been exposed to such frank depictions of the human form. They served as a catalyst in her aesthetic development, remarkable not so much for their explicitness as for their overt expressiveness.
Bloda began experimenting with photography soon after, using her female friends as models. “It was instinctively about the beauty of the body, about researching the relationships between us, and about the meaning of femininity,” she explains. Her growing preoccupation spurred her to complete an advanced degree at The Polish National Film, Television, and Theatre School, Poland’s premier photography institute. In the years since, she has enjoyed remarkable creative and commercial success in both Poland and America; her work has been shown in three galleries in each country and featured in such magazines as Richardson, Bullett, VICE, Fantastics, and Contributor.
Bloda’s photography is characterized by bright colors, stark contrast, and salacious content. Her goal, however, is not to titillate or to shock the viewer but rather to portray honesty. She uses the vulnerability sexuality affords to delve into her subjects’ psyches. This requires the careful selection of individuals who are completely willing to expose themselves, both emotionally and physically. “It is more about intimacy than it is about being provocative or making people dirty,” she reaffirms. “Clothes are a pretext for the ego. When you are without clothes, you cannot lie anymore.”
For Bloda, making art is a reciprocal and procreative act; she likens it to intercourse, describing it as “a mental penetration and the exchange of energy” in which the division of egos becomes ambiguous. In the process, she explains, “I become innocent again; I am healed from trauma. Every time I do it, I dig from inside … it’s an exploration on every level.” The magnetism of her photographs lies in how well they capture that transformational, deeply rejuvenating amalgamation