All it takes to leap down the rabbit hole and into the bright and dreamy Instagram world of photographer Belinda Tellez, a.k.a., @Belilabelle, is hit “Follow.” Through her collection of whimsical self-portraits and visual musings, this Venezuelan photographer has transformed her Instagram from a mere social media account into her own surrealist story-book. “As a kid, I was kind of weird,” confesses the Venezuelan photographer, “I liked books more than dolls and used to memorize passages from Alice in Wonderland.” Indeed, her images of framed, floating heads and girls who fly, of water with legs and shrubs wearing glasses convey the clear influence of Carroll’s fanciful fantasy.
Like Carroll, Tellez has an eye for the extraordinary—for moments which threaten to disappear from the mundane. From these fleeting phenomena, Tellez’s photography is born: hallways become jungle gyms, and building blocks serve as unexpectedly ideal picture frames. While photo manipulation forms part of her oeuvre, the express purpose of her art is neither to distance her followers nor even herself from reality. Rather, it is on the contrary: “When the pictures become very surreal and imaginative,” explains Tellez, “they also ironically become incredible real.”
This ‘ironic reality,’ becomes most present in Tellez’s self-portraiture. On her profile, she plays the protagonist, using her portraits to weave her posts into the self-reflective narratives of everyday life. Here, the artist acts as the sole author, capturing each of her portraits without the help of a second pair of hands. “I take the portraits myself,” comments Tellez, “so when the result is similar to what I imagined, I dance.”
Scrolling through Tellez’s profile, Instagram becomes more just an excuse to spend Sundays basking in the brunch-envy of your followers. After all, how many omelettes have been successfully filtered in “Kelvin?” With her art, Tellez moves beyond these plebeian pitfalls (despite the fact that she has been known to indulge in foodstagramming under the pseudonym, “Pancakeologist”). With her surreal storylines and posts, the shutterbug by the name @Belilabelle joins the growing school of photographers who are using Instagram as a platform for inventive, narrative artwork.