Ángela Burón first got into photography because she wanted to make better memes. Growing up in Spain, she and her friends would upload them to her college website—and when she became frustrated with the limited amount of photos on Google at the time, Ángela decided to buy a professional camera so she could properly enact her visions. The photos were mainly just her hands in strange poses that she would then edit herself.
Then one night, somewhere between sleep and consciousness, Ángela dreamed of a person with hands for feet and awoke in a cold sweat. This wasn’t new for her. Living with anxiety and depression, she barely slept without some kind of stress-induced nightmare. But something about this particular dream stuck, and she became obsessed with the idea of replicating the hands-for-feet character. So she got up in the middle of the night, started taking photos, and felt instantly relieved.
It was a cathartic experience for Ángela, manifesting the images she created in her head, because suddenly she could control how and when they appeared. This gave her a sense of empowerment and motivation, which was a delightfully new experience for someone who sometimes struggled to get out of bed.
Gradually, creating her visions became an obsession. “Every time I was listening to a conversation at work, or walking in the street, or talking to my mum, something would give me a new idea and I couldn’t stop thinking ‘oh, I need to do that,’” Ángela explained to VICE over the phone. And so she started taking photos every day, leading to a body of intriguingly distorted work.
Maybe the most interesting aspect of Ángela’s art is that her photos have no agenda. She says many people have tried to assign labels to her work, or have tried to find feminist or sexual messages in their tone, but Ángela insists they’re purely therapeutic.
“Lots of people call me feminist because I photograph women,” she says. “Other people call me sexist because I don’t use men or because they think I objectify women. But to be honest, I don’t even believe in gender. I do this because it’s therapy for me. It cures my head.”
When asked if her work aims to push boundaries of comfort, she answered: “it’s an aim to push my own boundaries and to become more familiar with my body. Before I did this, I didn’t like my body; I was so ashamed of it. There’s no photos of me between the ages of seven until I was 24, which was when I bought my first camera and started taking photos. But now I love my body more because I know it.
"If you saw a wall with 1,000 pictures of bums, would you know which one is yours? Because I would! I know my butt, and my teeth, and my knees, because I’ve seen them so many times. And I love that."
In this way her images have come to represent self-love and pride, but also curiosity. How would seven crossed legs look if they were piled on top of each other? How would a face look with boobs for eyes? And sometimes, the results of these anatomical experiments can even freak Ángela out.
“Sometimes I don’t really know how I feel about my photos. Some of the pictures, like the one with the nipples all down my arm, I hate that picture—I just want to vomit when I see it; it’s disgusting. But, you know, that’s an emotion too.”
And as she says, it’s much better to get the emotions out than to leave them in.
Interview by Talia Slonim, who is also on Instagram