Anna Biesuz is a London-based artist who uses drawing, photography and printing as part of her practice.
What are the inspiration and concerns behind your art practice? For example why do you use the body and sexuality as your main themes?
My practice aims to explore the inner living we experience as a body, trying to make it visually communicable through different media like drawing, photography and printing. I am trying to embody through art the experience of inhabiting and being a body, as I would like to engage the audience in considering the materiality of existence, its mortal mundanity. Besides, I consider the body as the immediate and somatic materialization of our emotivity to the outside, which is incarnated through a bodily language made of gestures. The body unfolds through its movements our experience of being, making us communicable to others. My works attempt to depict the sense of feeling as well as touching, considered not just as responding to external titillations, but also as narrating inward psychological drives and dynamics. I believe that every movement of our flesh actually embodies an attempt to communicate our intimacy, whereby we try to transcend the constitutive alienation of our living consciousness. This longing for contact is projected in sexuality as well, which cannot be reduced to a mere instinct to procreate, but must be recognized as a phenomenon reflecting the human yearning for empathy and sharing. Furthermore, I believe western society is somehow still uncomfortable with the idea of “having a body”. We are all used to employ it to materialize our reasoning; we adorn it to suit our attitude and we necessarily involve it in all our daily deeds. However, it seems to me that we still neglect the meaning of our inhabiting a body, the consequences of our being incarnated. It is like we don’t want to relate too much with what goes beyond the power of our rationality and its ability to control our will, as we still find hard to admit the powerlessness we have to cope with towards the tumultuous feelings hosted in our flesh. We may reasonably choose how to act, but we don’t have the absolute authority to abolish what we feel. Rationality is limited. This lack of awareness made us somehow disconnected and detached with our body, as we relate to it more as an exploitable devi- ce rather than considering it as an essential part of our being, turning it into a foreign to us. The vision of our incarnated consciousness, the restlessness of our sexuality, somehow unsettles us, likely because we dread the blindness of impulsiveness. Thus, a discourse about corporeality can actually deepen our awareness about our existence, as we don’t just have a body, but we are one: carnality allows us to participate into the living world, as well as to interact with others, hence we need to embrace its diversity. I am really into the possibility to investigate the body through such a physical and visual practice as art is.
How do you think your images of nudity fit in within the discourse around porn and objectification?
My practice is engaged also into the investigation of the difference between the simplistic representation our society produced about sex, systematized within our everyday porn culture, and the actual irreducible diversity and profundity we all have gone through within the experience of our bodies. Pornography reduces sex to the mechanics of selfish titillation, neglecting its authentic fulfillment which lies in sharing an intimacy, a communication among beings far beyond from the simple genitalia complementarity. Pornography objectifies the bodies, as it reduces subjects into fetished objects to satisfy the fantasy of the male’s gaze. It expropriates the freedom of this corporal experience and subjugates each body to a gender role that damages the jurisdiction of one’s own pleasure. This phallic imaginary produced our heterosexual culture, which absorbed us into a prefabricated deceptive freedom, as it actually dictates a criteria of ‘acceptability’ around which we are supposed to live our bodies, threatening the value we should recognize to the diversity of any personal experience. Not only women’s identity collapses inside the masculine perspective, but the whole spectrum of subjective narrations is swallowed and consumed by this distorted representativity of sexual intercourse. I believe art can question our assumptions about the unaware way we usually perceive and relate to our flesh, stimulating the rise of an emancipating culture, that promotes self-empowerment by tolerating the importance of one’s self-determined experience. It is an attempt to encourage a reconciliation with our inhabiting a body, starting with the acknowledgement of the it as terrain where subjective experiences are unfold, as the ones regarding affectivity and sexuality, each of which must be considered in order to generate a deeper awareness about living itself.
Can you tell us about your interest in feminism and how this feeds into your work?
Before attending a Drawing MA, I’ve been working as a member in a feminist association, hence feminist thinking deeply nurtured my thoughts around the body, as well as it led me to deconstruct the obscurantism acted within patriarchal culture. Feminist thinkers as Audre Lorde, Laura Mulvey, as well as Judith Butler, had a great impact on my works, as they taught me to investigate critically the contents of the reality we live in. I believe my erotic practice descends from Feminist discourse, as it also aims to encourage free expressivity and visibility upon the diversity of experiences. Therefore, considering that they both pursue the rebellion against the inauthentic living, in order to restitute to any being the deliberation upon its personalized desires, I consider my art to be part of the Feminist culture. I’ve been strongly influenced by Audre Lorde’s essay ‘Uses of the Erotic’, where she argues the erotic to be a source of hidden spiritual power that enlivens the body from within. This carnal energy, usually withdrawn due to the hegemonic anti-erotic culture that rejects corporeality, can empower our living by encouraging the pursuit of pleasure in every aspect of our existence. Carnality becomes a sensuous terrain to discover that feeling of satisfaction that we claim to generate in our everyday living. Thus, according to Lorde, the erotism embodies that creative power that can lead us to the fulfillment of our immanent happiness. Her thinking firstly encouraged me to analyze the way our society persuade us to perform our bodies, questioning whether this anti-erotic way matches the earthly life we are part of, or if it actually forces people to neglect a irreducible dimension where each subjectivity is unfold.
Do you think we are still ‘shocked’ these days by images of naked bodies and/or sexuality in artworks or with porn being so easily accessible on the internet is it somehow less powerful and subversive as a topic for paintings or art photography?
I think nakedness is still somehow ostracized by our society. I mean that, society displays a systematized representation of the naked body, but what overcomes that aesthetic and ‘moral’ criteria is still censored. This imaginative criteria sublimates the hetero/cisgender male’s sexual fantasies and expectations, each of which are assigned to the female’s body to be performed in accordance to this phallocentric desirability. On the other hand, any emancipated expression of carnality, released from the dehumanizing chains of the gendered gaze, is usually censored, despised as depravation; rather than embraced as subjective phenomenon. Therefore, despite the fact internet made a certain kind of nudity so widely accessible, this representation still portrays a misleading and manufactured sexuality, as it discriminates those minorities that don’t fit within those stereotypes produced. Thus, while a pornographic, objectifying nudity is somehow tolerated and even promoted by our utilitarian society; the authentic narration of nakedness as experience, is still perceived as outrageous, often banished in the mainstream discourse. Personally, I believe that we will always be disquieted by the physicality of our existences, because of the inextinguishable restlessness of the feelings hosted within our bodies. Nevertheless, considering that we cannot deny our corporal being, it is necessary to create a space where a dialogue about the experience of inhabiting a flesh is discussed and exchanged with others. The creation of this space is one of the aims of my current art. I believe that sharing the diversity of sexualities and bodies, by acknowledging the value of those personal experiences, would encourage our social communities to be more empathic, therefore more inclusive towards those minorities that are usually hushed up by the established acceptability.
What are you plans for the future? What’s next for your practice?
I’ve just graduated with an MA Drawing from UAL in London, so from now on I’ll be looking for any job opportunities that may contribute to the growth of my experience. Simultaneously one of my works has been selected to be part of the RSA Open Exhibition 2017, organized by the Royal Scottish Academy of Arts in Edinburgh. In terms of what’s next, the future is still uncertain, but what I am sure of is that I will stay here in London for some time, keeping with committing to my practice and its development. I would also be very interested in any artistic or job collaborations, so if anyone might be interested feel free to contact me.
You can find out more about Anna's work at : https://theydonotmove.wixsite.com/website.