Miss Aniela | Self Gazing | 17 April – 31 May 2008

Miss Aniela is a young British artist whose photographic self-portraits have become rapidly well-known and praised through the Internet. Her introspective and empowering female self-portraiture is entirely original and sometimes controversial.

Miss Aniela’s early work presented a wonderland of the idea of the ‘multiple self’. Her later work developed the ideal single self-portrait, where light, harnessed through lamps, windows and candles, played around the nude or semi-nude female figure. A mystical erotic charge runs throughout her work, emanating from the locations, obscure narratives and sense of implied voyeurism. Some of Miss Aniela’s later work alludes to the painting, with meticulous and fantastical post-processing that emphasises the female body without taking away the photographic ‘realness’.

The reception to Miss Aniela’s work has confronted issues concerning female nudity and its traditional place in art. Inherent in that notion is a value that the female body is to be looked at, but the female is not to ‘see’ herself, control or enjoy her own image. Miss Aniela subverts this normalisation by self-reflexively presenting a female whose body is not exclusively for the male eye. She is empowered to exhibit herself and control how she is perceived. Utilising digital means to create a kind of illusive femininity, the work of Miss Aniela confronts our prejudices on the role of the muse and the mechanisms of desire.

Obviously the references to Cindy Sherman’s work are unavoidable. Sherman’s approach to the stereotyped role of women in cinema and the media paved the way to questioning the female beauty in the fashion that Miss Aniela does today.

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