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Created over a sustained period in Florence and finalised in England, Anima is a series that questions a selfie-saturated world whilst remaining light-hearted with the medium of traditional photobooth pictures. 

Anima (n): A current of air, wind breeze; the vital principle, life, soul. 

Engagement is a significant factor in the formation of the series, Anima. Firstly, there is Elle’s desire to engage with the people of Florence, a city initially full of strangers to the English born Artist. The city’s embroilment in art and portraiture enthused Elle, who worked as a model for various painters, sculptors and visual artists, deepening an interest in understanding exactly what a portrait is - and where the agency lies in portraiture: is it with the sitter or the maker

As a portrait photographer, Elle began casting from the Florentine streets, instigating conversations that varied between a nod & smile to twenty minute exchanges. Instead of shooting on a handheld camera, Elle chose to be removed from the immediate set-up of the portrait, making use of the readily accessible photobooth/fotoautomatica as an apt medium. The participants sat in the photobooth, without external gaze, faced with a need to engage with their 'self' in order to express their anima. 

An interesting point, Elle notes, is how it was impossible to document the number of people who simply didn’t want to be seen; there were people who were happy to stay for a conversation, but not everyone was content to document their image. There were also those who were willing to join in, providing they shared the photobooth with a friend. These group shots are presented in the Anima publication as a hand-finished triple page spread. The ways in which couples & groups respond in the booth is curious in comparison with how the individuals might respond on their own. Elle queries whether this self-expression of anima is amplified more as individual portraits, or when interacting with another person? 

Wanting to emphasise the significance of engagement, Elle has hand-finished each publication. With inserted photobooth strips, posters, crayon marks, doodles, old Italian papers and fold-out spreads; the experience of turning the pages of Anima is very tactile. These hand-finished touches mean no two books are the same; they are each entirely individual. This is not accidental. Elle emphasises how each of us is entirely individual, in any given moment: we each contain our own anima, which shifts indefinitely. 

The book Anima is designed and hand-finished by Ellen Kydd; and published by 0.08 Imprints, an independent publishing house based in Salford, England.

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