Anys Reimann, a German artist with an East Prussian mother and a West African father, has created collage portraits of Black women. She sources her collage cut-outs from photographs found on the internet, magazines and even newspapers. By doing so, she has highlighted acts of Blackfishing, the choose-and-pick attitude that mainstream media and public figures have adopted when it comes to Black women and their physical traits. 

Photograph of Anys Reimann. Image courtesy of @anysreimann/Instagram.

Blackfishing says that traits typically found on Black women’s bodies, such as thick lips, large bottoms and afro hairstyles, are stylish and trendy, but only when they are seen on predominantly white celebrities. Meanwhile, Black women worldwide face rampant discrimination for having these features. They are discriminated against in public, at the workplace or even at home

LE NOIRE DE… XXXV by Anys Reimann. Image courtesy of @anysreimann/Instagram.

In Reimann’s pieces, appropriated Black women’s traits are put back together onto a Black woman's body in a Frankenstein-esque manner. Yet, this portrayal highlights and celebrates these features, as the Black women in Reimann’s pieces are empowered, confident, and embraced for their physical traits. This makes her work relevant to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of Gender Equality and Reduced Inequalities.

Pose (Vamp) by Anys Reimann. Image courtesy of Van Horn Gallery.

An article written by the Kunsthalle Mannheim likened Reimann’s practice to those of cubists such as Pablo Picasso and Jacques Lipchitz. This is an interesting comparison, for while it is true that there are a few similarities between the two, the ideology behind them could not have been further apart. The first similarity is visual; both cubists and Reimann have created bodies with seemingly fragmented figures. This is done with the intention to capture the multifaceted nature of a single person or an object.

LE NOIRE DE.. XCIVE by Anys Reimann. Image courtesy of Van Horn Gallery.

However, cubists, particularly Pablo Picasso, who often depicted African masks and Black women, did so with a primitivising and objectifying lens. Once again, Reimann has flipped the narrative. She has taken an art style that has historically been discriminatory and used it to celebrate Black women. 

LE NOIRE DE.. LXXVIII by Anys Reimann. Image courtesy of Van Horn Gallery.

At the end of the day, Anys Reimann’s collages are powerful tools to challenge discriminative portrayals of Black women. Reclaiming Blackfishing images and an art style that was historically used in a discriminatory way make her efforts that much more empowering. Reimann’s pieces celebrate Black women and provide her audiences with a more inclusive representation of beauty in art, a move that will pave the way to a more equitable future in art and mass media.

Find out more about Anys Reimann’s collages and their other pieces by checking their Instagram @anysreimann.

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