I recently stumbled upon pictures of Anna O., a self-taught photographer living in Poland. Anna O. does not explain her work and wishes not to give interviews, thus leaving the interpretation entirely up to the viewer.
Anna O. photography focusses on self-portraits. Self-portraits usually speak through facial expressions, but Anna O.’s face is never visible in her pictures. Instead, it is often covered by flowers, which speak their very own language, giving away secrets to the ones privy to it.
The following pictures (copyright Anna O. – All Rights Reserved) were randomly selected by me trying to produce representable samples of her work.
I find Anna O.’s usage of flower symbolism very interesting, for people nowadays tend not to know the symbolic meaning of flowers anymore, which was commonly used as a means of communication in the Victorian era.
And just like flower symbolism, the name of Anna O. also roots in the 19th century: It was the pseudonym of Bertha Pappenheim as a patient of the Austrian physician Josef Breuer, who published a ground-breaking book on hysteria in collaboration with Sigmund Freud. The case of Anna O. is regarded as marking the beginnings of psychoanalytic therapy. I wonder if the photographer Anna O. shares her name with Pappenheim’s pseudonym by happenstance, or whether she chose it on purpose, possibly suggesting a connection between Anna O.’s case and her work … maybe this is a secret only the flowers know …
Lisa v. D.