Laia Abril


Thinspiration used to be images or video montages of skinny women, usually celebrities or models, who may be anything from naturally slim to skeletal with visibly protruding bones. Thinspirations are posted on Pro-Ana blogs and sites by bloggers, forum members and social networking groups to motivate themselves or one another toward further weight loss; many of these girls suffer from an eating disorders, specifically anorexia. This community of bloggers, also known as the Pro-Ana community, promote the eating disorder anorexia nervosa as a ‘life style choice’; they personify anorexia into Ana, a character with dogmas about the illness. These girls venerate Ana; as a result, they created ‘Thin Commandments’ and motivational tricks, which together with the Thinspiration images, help them to stay thin or loose more weight. Recently, there are more Pro-Ana bloggers that have begun to take and post self-portraits in order to inspire and display their success; these self-portraits are called the “Real Thinspiration”.

My knowledge of this community comes firsthand. In 2010, after leading a year in recovery to overcome ten years of bulimia, I decided to document the struggle of girls battling the same disease. For more than two years, I worked on Chapter Two: ‘Thinspiration’, a documentation of the Pro-Ana community members, who started to take self portraits of their thin bodies, and a portrayal of their obsession with their bodies having to be a certain way, like knees apart, sharp clavicles or highlighted ribs and spine bones. The images in this chapter are the result of photographs that I took of the computer screens depicting thousands of vernacular self-portraits taken by Pro-Ana members and shared on their blogs and websites. I re-take their self-portraits, photographing and reinterpreting their images from the screen, resulting the visual response to the bond between obsession and self-destruction; the disappearance of one’s own identity. The project is a personal and introspective journey across the nature of obsessive desire and the limits of auto-destruction, denouncing disease’s new risk factors: social networks and photography.

Laia Abril is a documentary photographer raised in Barcelona. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and studied photography through different workshops and master classes, including at the ICP in New York City. She has published in different magazines such as D – La Repubblica, Ojo de Pez, Le Monde Magazine, The Sunday Times Magazine, FT Magazine, PDN, Burn Magazine, GUP, ESQUIRE Russia or COLORS Magazine where she is a member of the editorial team since she enrolled at FABRICA – the Artists Residency of the Benetton Research Centre in Italy – in 2009. In 2009 and 2010 she was a finalist of the Ian Parry Scholarship. Her most recent project THINSPIRATION (About the Pro-Ana community), has being finalist of the Burn Emerging Photography Fund in 2012.

Festival Centre
Piotrkowska 138/140

opening hours
6.06 (Thu): 6 pm. – 10 pm.
7.06-16.06 (Mon-Sun): 11 am. – 8 pm.
latest entrance: 7.00 pm.

opening: 6.06, 7 p.m.
exhibition is held: 6-16.06