Her NSFW new series travels from Hawaii to China via webcam.
“The project is about ourselves and our relationship with our bodies,” photographer Alexandra Leese says. “It’s about taking back control over how we perceive and love ourselves within a society that constantly tells us how to.”
Like many artists whose work depends on closeness to their subjects (look no further than her work for i-D) Alexandra was forced to grapple with new techniques to create a similar level of intimacy in lockdown. “At the very beginning of the initial lockdown I felt very overwhelmed about the state of the world, and so felt less inspired to create, as my mind wasn’t focused on doing so,” Alexandra says. “A few weeks in, I started to channel the anxiety into a project, and this is how this began.”
“At first it was a little odd, as it was a new experience for everyone, and you have this added barrier between you,” Alexandra says. “It’s also not the smoothest process, having to get the women to move the laptop or phone for me as I directed them; it relied on clear communication and understanding between us. However once we got into it, I found everyone got comfortable fairly quickly, and we focused on creating something special together.”
Yet without this newfound approach, the resulting book, Me + Mine, would never have been possible. Opening borders, the webcam gave Alexandra access to models and muses all over the world. “It was incredible to meet women from so many different cultures and bring it together into one project. I would say that I’m usually drawn to confident women, who seem to know themselves and what they are about through accepting, working on and overcoming their insecurities. I think this requires strength and they tend to give off this energy. It translates into how they hold themselves too.”
Me + Mine — designed by Eva Nazarova — comprises simply of nude portraits, shot on film via recordings of Zoom conversations. The book contains 44 women and one strong message: “This is me, and my body is mine, knowing that empowerment comes from within ourselves, while also finding strength in unity as we go on this journey alongside one another,” Alexandra says. “We have for a long time been taught to perform for the cis male gaze, to perceive and hold our bodies as if someone is looking. The purpose was to create a safe place for those involved, so they could be themselves, feel comfortable, beautiful and content.” The proceeds raised from its sale will go towards three organisations: Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre, Black Trans Femme in the Arts Collective and the Trans Law Center.
“It’s been the year of introspection,” Alexandra adds, “which can be a difficult process, but it allowed me to gain a better sense of who I am and therefore what work I want to be creating.”
Original publication 27 November, 2020
Posted on NatCorn 14th December 2020
Reference to an article does not infer endorsement of any views expressed.