Body On Me: Artist + Curator Interview - Nastasia Alberti
Nastasia Alberti a self-taught photographer from Paris, based in London. Her work focuses on female subjects, using only natural light and DIY development to produce beautiful pictures. Her work conjures up worlds where woman can be vulnerable, brave and dominant, looking for their raw emotions: life and death, fear and joy, resurrection. For Not So Popular's PEAKS SERIES, she curated the photography for the evening. Here she talks to Alannah Francis on her motivations behind the show, and the impact of social beauty standards on her work.
How did you go about choosing which particular pieces of work you would exhibit as part of tonight’s theme, Body on Me?
To be honest, I haven’t given it that much thought because I think that 90% of my work is about body and intimacy so I think I could have chosen any kind of picture because it would always talk about that. But I chose those two photos because they’re very recent, they’re the ones I’ve done most recently. And I really love them because they both fit together in terms of intimacy although they’re in a completely different background because one is in the forest and the other is in the bed in a room. But they’re both moments that I just took when I was doing a photoshoot for other things that were not that intimate and I just saw that moment and took those photos. And they're very, very close to me and I think on those two photos you can really see how the girl was feeling at the moment and it's this sort of peacefulness that you get when you’re very close to someone and I think they just let me see that on those two photos and I like that.
Each artist I chose are people that I love their work. Also, I love them as people to be honest. But I do love their work. I chose Mafalda I would say because her work is quite similar to mine, a bit better if I’m honest but she does really… she does film like me which is something for me it’s so important. And I really, really like the idea to have someone else that does film because that is a part of being intimate, I think, using film because it’s a different process when you take a photo you have to really think about it so you tend to talk more to the person you work with. She works with just one person usually. All of her work is very beautiful. Like, it’s so pretty what she does. And I think she’s been doing so well recently so I know that, you know, she will bring a lot of people with her which is always good in a show. So that’s why I chose her.
And then I chose Marion because she’s a good friend of mine. We’ve been working together recently on a lot of projects and I felt like she would be a good addition to talking about intimacy but also, her work is a little bit different to anyone else’s. It’s talks more about [submission, women] and things like that. I mean, it’s quite interesting the way she works. I think Mafalda and I, especially the work we’ve shown tonight, it’s more like soft portrait, soft everyday life, then Marion has more of a meaning behind it especially the work she’s shown.
And I chose Manu because he’s actually Marion’s boyfriend and I love the idea that the girl in the photos is Marion, which I think brings another level of intimacy because, you know, she’s exhibiting, he’s exhibiting his work which she's in. And I think it’s interesting that we all kind of worked together and also Manu has a lot of nude photos which are very different from what I would normally do and I thought it would bring a good addition because it’s a different kind of intimacy.
Your work is very intimate. How do you tackle the issue of vulnerability in front of the lens?
I always work with friends. That is one of the intimacy things. I only work with friends. I don’t work with models. If I take a photo of you it is because I know you and I love you. And I always work only with the person I’m taking the photo with so I never, ever have anyone with me. I don't have assistants, it’s just me, the girl and the place we want to be. I only use natural light so it’s just a dialogue. We talk and then I take photos. And also I don’t speak very much. I think it’s quite hard actually to take photos with me because I don’t talk so I don't ask you to do anything; we’re just together. Usually I have a talk with them before where I tell them the feelings of the photoshoot, what I want to say, my emotions and then I tell them what it represents and then we just work and I just take photos like that. So it can take an hour, it can take two hours, it can take three hours but I won’t tell you to do anything. So I think people get less scared because it’s more like we’re hanging out.
Mattel have recently released Barbie dolls in a variety of body types. How much do mainstream attitudes towards body image affect your work?
That’s a tough one. It’s a tough one that one because I think, unfortunately, body image it affects everyone today, doesn’t it? I don’t want to be a part of that. So I refuse to use anyone that, for me, does not look healthy or like what a woman should be which is curve. No matter what kind of curve, you know. You can be really thin naturally but you will have some sort of curve and it’s natural. But I don’t want to work with someone who doesn’t eat or anything because it’s kind of promoting this idea again that to look pretty or to be a person you have to look a certain way. And it affects me every day, on a daily basis so I tend to always, with my work, be very conscious about it, to not be a part of it. Unfortunately, I think that even if the Barbie is doing this it’s still not gonna work because again it’s…when you have plus size models and everyone talk about it for 10 days, you’re always represented as a plus size model. You always see that. If you read an article it’s always like [gasps] the new Calvin Klein is using a plus size model. Why do you call her that? We’re still at that stage. So clearly it’s not really…do you know what I mean it’s a fake…it feels like it’s not right. And it’s like the Barbie, I feel like they do that but realistically it’s not really going to change that much because it’s not very natural. You know, they’re still…they’re such a small part in what we’re made to see every day that makes you think of your body image and your beauty and whatever you should look like.