Last Updated on 12/11/2022 by Mark Beckenbach
The first time I heard of Anna Fux was the morning of the same day I decided to do this interview. I was walking down El Rastro, the most famous flea market in Madrid, when someone I knew invited me to the presentation of Same, same, but different, a self-published photobook awarded as one of the best photo books of the year by PhotoEspaña. I don’t remember what I was expecting to find, to be honest. I remember being impressed and knowing I had to have a talk with Anna Fux and get a copy of her book for myself. Here’s what we talked about.
Anna Fux’s Gear of Choice
My work is deeply conceptual and intentionally political, so the photographic and technical aspects are just a language and tools I use to express whatever goal I set myself up to.
I am a very practical and straightforward person; my little Fujifilm is handy, lightweight, and fast, very useful for documentary photography. A small camera is not as intimidating and allows me to photograph unnoticed, which makes for intimate and spontaneous photos.
The phoblographer: Would you mind telling us something about yourself?
Anna Fux: I’m a queer German-Filipina visual artist and writer, somewhere between the millennial and gen-Z generations. I grew up in Spain, and my work focuses on cultural critique, photography, social justice, decolonization, and identity — for the moment. I hope to expand this list! My friends say I am very generous, creative, and sassy; my haters don’t like my abundant air quotes.
The phoblographer: How did you get into photography?
Anna Fux: Honestly, my beginnings with photography were very mundane; I think it was a generational thing. I was in my teens when social media, self-portraiture, and online staging boomed. Facebook and Spanish webs like Tuenti or Fotolog were giant. We started documenting our teens and became models of our own blogs and lives. We were onto something with all the posing and experimenting with our self-presentation.
Someone told me that putting racism, queer experiences, and immigration in the same photobook would be too much for some people, and I thought, “It’s not too much for me to live through, is it? Why would it be too much for a book?”
The phoblographer: What’s the motivation behind this project?
Anna Fux: The project began when I realized I had a huge archive of photos of my queer friends of color in Madrid. I was the friend that would drag her camera to protests, birthdays, pregames, and parties. There was a point where I was like, Okay, Anna, you can’t just let these photos catch dust on your computer.
Spain was experiencing a big wave of interest in photobooks, and that’s how I discovered the medium. I knew Ï wanted to create one, and it took me three years to finish it. I don’t want to spoil the book, but a few unexpected and beautiful coincidences had to happen for it to come out as it did.
The phoblographer: How did this project change you?
Anna Fux: As a queer and racialized woman in Spain, anything I do is full of strong emotions. Apart from creating, which in itself is hard, I also fight constantly against daily discrimination, imposter syndrome, tokenization, anxiety, shame, and rage. Creating can be heartbreaking, and I believe it’s vital to finish your projects and bring your ideas to life. I think of every project not only as an act of love toward myself but also as an act of love toward the people who end up reading my work.
The phoblographer: Your uncle’s pictures, old as they are, are in color. Why are yours monochrome?
My friends say I am very generous, creative, and sassy; my haters don’t like my abundant air quotes.
Anna Fux: It is a beautiful coincidence that insists on the idea of “Same Same But Different. 40 years have gone by, and my experiences are quite similar to the ones my gay Filipino uncle lived. What we understand as “the past” is very much still contemporary and in so many ways a window to understanding what we are going through today. Also, I just love monochrome! Colors in portraiture can be very distracting, although I know that’s a personal bias.
The phoblographer: There are some white pages around the book. what do they mean?
Anna Fux: I was, and still am, very passionate about the emotional experience the reader of my photobook has. Rhythm was a big thing for me. Blank pages have a lot of interpretations, but just as in music, where silence also creates rhythm, in a book, blank pages allow a more paused, more conscious, and intentional reading experience. It’s like a sweet break for your brain.
The phoblographer: The language in your book seems pretty inclusive, all things considered. What did you intend to achieve with this?
Anna Fux: Inclusion is the beautiful side effect of intentionally pursuing accessibility—both through direct and concise language but also photography. During the creative process, I would constantly remind myself of the question: How radical can my work be if neither my uncle nor my parents understand it?
There is a very intentional decision behind choosing accessible vocabulary and not writing an essay full of technical words that only academically educated people within social, political, gender and race studies would understand. If I am saying that the same experiences affected both my uncle in the 80s in Spain and my chosen family and me in 2021, I can’t only use vocabulary that I, within my little bubble, understand.
The phoblographer: What do you mean by chosen family?
Anna Fux: I would say that everyone can relate to the concept of a chosen family. Chosen family is the people who feel like family but aren’t related to you by blood. For people who are LGBTQIA+, migrants, or PoC, the concept of chosen family is almost inevitable. It is really a matter of survival.
I read this quote by a biologist the other day, I don’t remember the author’s name, but it said something like “At the end of the day, love is just a sophistication of survival.” And what is a chosen family but love?
The phoblographer: What tips would you offer anyone trying to create a photo book?
Anna Fux: Be very intentional and passionate about your project. Be obsessed and unshakeable about it. A photo book, especially your first one, can be a torturous ambition, so try to have fun and enjoy it. Trust your vision and filter the feedback; not all input is proactive and helpful. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact me!
All images ceded by Anna Fux. Used with permission. This interview has been lightly edited for grammar reasons. Be sure to visit Anna’s Instagram to see more. You can also get her book on La Fábrica. Want to get featured? Click here to see how.