Alice Zilberberg merges traditional photography and computer illustration, creating images that bridge the platforms of photography and painting. Her work marries reality and fantasy, echoing elements of surrealism and baroque art. Using photo-manipulation metaphorically, her images explore themes such as female power, the natural environment, personal identity, and the human condition.
The series Goddess Almighty is a reinterpretation of the first recorded goddess, Mother Nature. Worshipped in a time when nature was depended upon and respected, she epitomized fertility, the life cycle and sexual freedom, all embodied in a woman. Today, by contrast, we domineer and destroy nature. Our primary religions convey god as a man and traditionally devalue women. Reminiscent of baroque art, the work reestablishes the goddess to her origins, defining her as strong, mysterious and defeating. Dancers are used for their physical strength, their muscles digitally exaggerated.
Influences by the surrealism movement, The Dreaming Girls is an homage to the surrealists working from the 1920s to the 1960s. This project uses surreal art photography to channel the unconscious and unleash imagination. Writing down dreams and visual ideas for weeks, the project was made using different images taken in different places. The images were put together, with colouring and toning digitally.
As the themes in Alice’s work change, the fascination with the surreal stays.
Interview with Alice Zilberberg
Where are you from?
I grew up in Israel.
Where do you live now?
Downtown Toronto, Canada.
How has that affected your work?
Some of my work like my project “Home”, speaks about my background and belonging. In this project, the bottom half of the images were photographed in Israel, the country I grew up in, while the sky was shot in Canada, the country I currently reside in. When I arrived in Canada I found it difficult to connect to other, and when I came to visit “Home” (Israel) after many years, I realized that in Israel I was Canadian, and in Canada I was Israeli. The landscapes are digitally manipulated to appear otherworldly, like a different planet, representing a place I am estranged from. In them I see a familiarity, a place that is so beautiful, that has recognizable features, but somewhere I feel alien.
What concepts or stories do you often return to? Why?
I have made a few projects that are eco-feminist in nature, which explore the connections between femininity and the natural environment. I return to these themes because I like to take ideas I’m interested in and make metaphoric connections that appear in my work. In the future, I see myself making direct connections to personal experiences and my life in my projects.
What artists do you look up to?
Some contemporary artists I admire are Ray Caesar, Erwin Olaf, Natalie Shau, Miss Aniela, Erik Johansson, and Brooke Shaden. I also love artists such as Dali, Rene Magritte, Frida Kahlo, Frans Snyder, and Jan Weenix.
Your work is surrealistic and you work in digital photography. How did you come about to choose this combination?
I’ve been drawing and painting since I young age. I started playing with digital illustration and photo-manipulation before I picked up a camera. My style developed when I discovered photography I saw that I could manipulate photography in the computer and create surrealistic images. I’ve been working in this technique for over ten years.
Feminism seems to be important in the two bodies of work we are featuring. Who or what has influence your thinking on this?
As someone who grew up in a small kibbutz in Israel, I’ve always felt very connected to nature. As I child I remember always playing outside and being in nature as opposed to being connecting to technology. Owning my own business and being entrepreneurial in nature, I feel the connection to empower women.