6. 11. 2020

English version | Alina Gross: Our body is a wonderland

by Ana Murcho


"I have in me all the shapes in the world." This is what Alina Gross's images scream, in a soft, but at the same time impactful way. The photographer, based in Bochum, Germany, celebrates femininity, and the act of being a woman, in its purest state. And raw. Even if the censorship and puritanism of social networks try to prevent the publication of her masterpieces.

In this series “Follow the White Rabbit” you show a combination of painting, color and the naked female body. Can you tell us more about this project and how did you decide to approach it? I've been working on the topic of the female body for a long time. The body after birth is a big issue. Representation of femininity in different epochs, analogies to the flora another. I asked myself which images our society needs right now. I thought of stereotypical ideas about beauty and wanted to work against them. I wanted to show beauty in imperfection. Again and again I use body painting for the representation of bodies and body studies. I designed a concept based on three building blocks: imperfection, body painting and fairy tales. I teamed up with the talented painter Vanessa Hitzfeld, a graduate of the Art Academy Düsseldorf, Germany, and worked out this route in several sessions. 

There is a very intimate side to your work. It can be raw and delicate at the same time. And of course, a large part of it is about women - and what it means to be a woman. Why is this topic so important to you? As a woman, of course, I have female issues that I work on. What is happening in my body What processes are going on there? How do I get my emotional side in line with the sensible side? 

In your opinion, what role does the female gaze play in photography today? Can women really be empowered through the lens of photography? Femininity is and was represented very differently in our culture. Just think of the Rubens women, who were long considered the ideal of beauty. I want to create a space in my photography in which women can be who they are without feeling ashamed. I believe in the power of images. Images have often influenced political decisions. Pictures can trigger feelings, stimulate thought. I wanted to say that with these pictures: all bodies are beautiful, a breast that hangs after a long period of breastfeeding or a belly that wrinkles. 

Where do you find inspiration? What's the trigger that makes you want to start a new series? One of the inspirations for this photo series was Joanne Leah, who also works with body painting and depicts the body. I like their trendy colors and their playfulness. The german model of the sixties Veruschka, Vera von Lehndorff, was also an inspiration. She saw herself as part of nature and connected with nature through bodypainting by adopting its colors and shapes in bodypainting.

I wanted to ask you how to strike a balance between being censored by social media and being able to share your work with the world since your posts have been regularly deleted. Then your Instagram was removed. Completely. How do you feel about this decision? What are you going to do? What would you like to say to the people who followed you before? This is a very good question. For me, Instagram represents the vanity fair par exellance. In order to participate in the social life of the photo scene, one has to join it. Instagram's actions hit me a lot. I have an ambivalent relationship to it; on the one hand, I've had a lot of great moments on instagram, but also a lot of humiliating ones. You expose yourself to arbitrariness and live in constant fear of being attacked or deleted. First I have to sort myself out and think about how it will go on. You can definitely reach me via my homepage and by email. 

Originally published on Vogue Portugal November issue, "The Beauty of Imperfection."