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It appears to be “that time”, and by this I mean the time we look at some sexually explicit, NSFW but totally alluring images. I’m talking about the photography of Aneta Bartos, a polish immigrant, who, at the age of 16 while moving to Brooklyn, enrolled in a high-school photography class because she didn’t know a word in English: “I found it very soothing because I didn’t have to speak”. After this accidental starting point, by the second year of college she began sensing that photography was becoming very important to her and finally started to pursue it in a more serious way.
The beginning of Aneta’s career sounds like the never-ending art graduate story: after graduation, having tons of school loans and absolutely no money, she was encouraged to shoot model portfolios as a way to make ends meet, which eventually led Aneta into the fashion photography world, where she ended up spending about 6 years. Eventually, Aneta Bartos went back to her roots, where her artistic expression suffers no restrictions. Her fashion works have been displayed through the pages of countless publications such as Big, Condé Nast Portfolios, Elle, British GQ, New York and Zoo Magazine, and since then, her work has been featured in W Magazine, Interview Magazine, GUP Magazine, Dossier Journal, Artinfo, Modern Painters Daily, Paddle 8, Gallerist NY, Time Magazine Online and New York Magazine among many others.
By taking only one glance at her website (http://anetabartos.com/), it is more than obvious that sexuality plays a major role in her eerie and painterly photographs. Aneta’ s approach is intimate, sexually charged, voyeuristic and exhibitionist, but there’s vulnerability too.
One of her most provocative projects is 4 Sale, exhibited in 2010 at New York’s 8 Bond Studio, which was the culmination of a year long creative union between Aneta Bartos, Elle Muliarchyk, Yana Toyber and Martynka Wawrzyniak. Even though she is no stranger to using herself in her images, Aneta took on a bigger bite with this project, challenging herself to pose and make herself available and vulnerable to the other 3 female artists she posed with. The result turned out to be a set of highly erotic images, but somehow aggressive in their brutal voyeuristic gratification.
Boys is a series in which Bartos records private sexual moments of her subjects: men who have agreed to let her photograph them masturbating in the small, dimly lit rooms of the Carlton Arms Hotel in New York City. It is a nice twist to the usual depiction of female vulnerability and serves as a reaction to the male gaze present in much of art history; specifically how female “muses” have been depicted through a heterosexual male lens. These are erotic images of men made by a woman! The photographs, made with a medium format camera, often use expired Polaroid film and only the available light from the hotel rooms, resulting in dark, grainy, soft focus images. The culmination of the series was the exhibition, from 31 January to 21 February 2013, in two rooms of the same hotel in which they were shot, inviting the viewer into the relationships between Aneta and the models, which are all close friends of hers.
Aneta’s newest project is called Spider Monkeys which, as she states, the Mayans saw as sexual deviants, half human half animal creatures. “It’s a narcissistic reflection, an alter ego, where 2 parts of a whole make up separate personalities. ‘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.”
On that note…I’m off to get lost in the dreamlike, erotic and powerful work of Aneta Bartos. I suggest you do the same…
by Alexandra Mateescu
Alexandra Mateescu is a photo-video junkie who left her imaginary super successful forensics career in favor of the University of Arts. She frequently gets mistaken with a 16 year old high school girl so you’ll never catch her without her ID, she has a strong passion for the 80’s, and her kind of art must be funny and a little bit ironic.