Interview with Silvershotz Magazine / by Alice Zilberberg

Bellow is my interview with Silvershotz Magazine, 

The work of Estonia born Alice Zilberberg [http://www.alicezilberberg.com] is inspired by pop-surrealism, as well as classic artists such as Dale and Magritte. Folklore, mythology and fairy tales form the basis for her series ’The Death of ”Happily Ever After”,. Her work is largely based on paintings, a medium she practised before photography. ’Once I experimented with photography,  I quickly saw that it could be used to make the kind of images I want, especially with post production’, she explains. ’Using image compositing, I expand on depictions of femininity and the environment as portrayed in literature, pagan tradition, religious formalism and the deity.’

Disneyfied

She extracts the essence of female power, removing outdated notions of a weaker sex and questioning our values. Unlike her earlier work, the characters in ’The Death of’ are not powerful woman, capable, alluring and defeating. On the contrary, Alice portrays the belief in the beautiful fairy tale princess in her images as dark, ugly and even horrible.  She didn’t take inspiration from the ’Disneyfied’ interpretation of classic fairy tales, but interpreted the meaning, tone and content of the older versions, collected by the Brothers Grimm. These sweet, innocent children’s tales appear do not always end with ’happily ever after’. ’They included harsh punishment of characters, sexual inferences and often death’, says Alice. ’Just like my images, which are unsuitable for children. With this series I attempt to thematically take these fairy tales back in time through image composites and create my own version of Walt Disney’s Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and other classics.’

Collages

The dark aesthetic takes the stories back to their origins, mocking the Disney versions for their simplistic happy endings. Contrasting the tale of Alice in Wonderland for example, she presents the main character as a girl with a mental illness, in a dark state of mind. Visual elements portray this idea as well, instead of giving Alice shiny golden locks, photographer Alice only used dark hair in all her stories. ’These repeating visual details tie up the stories thematically, correcting today’s uninspired, sanitised version of these tales. The same goes for the use of windows and ominous skies, which I use as elements that work aesthetically to give a feeling of depth.’ Alice used a collage method of working, putting different elements together to create an image that ticks all the boxes. In the above mentioned image for example, she used a chessboard patternon the  floor, which she photographed in a local restaurant. ’I searched for parts that fitted together. Originally Sleeping Beauty is shot in an abandoned warehouse, but the ceiling, walls and floor originated from other places in and around Toronto. The parts just have to fit together.’

Narrating and participating

’I choose to narrate the story as well as participate in it, placing myself as the dark haired heroin. She is not saved by a prince, but alone and in despair, or even dead, like in Little Red Riding Hood and The Little Mermaid.’ By playing that role herself, Alice also challenges conventional ideas about how women should act, look and be like. For this she changed her own appearance time and time again. The first image of the series on which she started working in 2010 - Repunzel - is a perfect example of this. And Cinderella for example, sits crying as her leg has been cut off by her sisters as punishment. The recreated narrative returns the story’s tone to what is presented in earlier versions, while acknowledging and embracing the fact that these stories are meant to be shaped by their creator - something Alice does in a confronting way with her photography. ’I was in a very dark place when I made this…’

Twisted narrative

The other part of her inspiration came from female writers of the 17th century. They wrote for adults, and their readers - primarily women - used these stories to create alternate realities. ’Touching on counter-cultural ideas such as choice of spouse, inheritance and women rights. These tales challenged both literary and social conventions, which is also my  intent with this series. My twisted narrative in the images and use of characters also challenges mainstream cultural myths about what a woman should be, and how her story really ends. I stress the fact that the plot of the story is always controlled by its teller, in this case, not ending happily ever after’.

 

Alice currently works and resides in Toronto, Canada. She graduated with honours for her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from Ryerson University and has won numerous awards.