“My work is my body, my body is my work. I am the canvas.”
The work of Portuguese artist Helena Almeida is said to be a combination of contradictions. She claims she is not a photographer, yet the majority of her works are communicated in black-and-white photography. She claims she does not make self-portraits, but nearly all of her artworks feature herself, the artist. It is enough to drive the most experienced, open-minded art critic back to the history books.
The image above is from her work For Study for Inner Improvement (1977), a sequence of photographs in which Almeida looks to be eating blue paint. Critics believe that the colour she is consuming is very similar to that of Yves Klein, of whom Almedia had in the past protested at the use of women as objects in his artworks, yet she denies any similarities or references to the late French actionist. Almeida’s chewing up of Klein’s blue, a colour he had come to dominate, was at the time not only a bold statement to be making, but also a liberating act for women and artists everywhere.