Anna Ehrenstein is a 24 year old artist, living between Cologne and Berlin. She was born and raised in Germany, but has Albanian blood and heritage. Her practice focuses on lens-based arts, especially photography, but she also works in video or installation and performance. What interests her most are visualizations of contemporary issues, to which a broad audience can relate. In radicalising and exaggerating different aesthetics, while taking inspiration from mass media and everyday life she is showing different angles in a current process of reflection. Her main focus lies on topics like class, gender representation, sexuality and the impact of authorities, for example regarding police brutality. She finished studying photography at the University of Applied Arts and Sciences in Dortmund and exhibited internationally; for example at the Galerie Lichtblick in Cologne, the PhotoIreland Festival in Dublin or the Fondazione Marangoni in Florence. Her work was nominated for various awards like the Prix “Residence pour la Photographie” of the Fondation des Treilles, the International Photography Award Emergentes dat in Braga or the Visible White Photo Prize from the Celeste Network and her first monograph with Editions Bessard has been published in 2017. 

Authenticity has always been a central question in discussions concerning society. It is continuing to gain importance with the emergence of new phenomena such as fake news, alternative facts and instant online control possibilities. However, our definition of an authentic being or an authentic object and our understanding of how the two relate to each other tend to differ, often in line with cultural and geographical variance despite our global connections.

"Tales of Lipstick and Virtue" deals with the crossroads of gender, class, ethnicity and their interconnection to self representation as well as post-colonialism, authenticity and pseudo luxury. The work consists of portraits in Albania and figurative fake-stills of brand imitations and counterfeit luxury out of the studio. Using methods of documentary, fashion and advertising photography, it is blurring the thin line between original and bootleg, truth and fiction, genuine and counterfeit.

The question if, especially in the post-communistic context of Albania, visual and sexual self-determination as well as femininity are empowering young women globally, is playing a key role. Intersections of class and aesthetics and their (non-) euro- centric backgrounds are examined with a playful use of saccharine colour, stylization and humour. The communist cry for 'necessity' and the feminist cry for 'naturalness' contrast with the human desire for experimentation, self- expression and speculation. Since we are all products of a multi-faceted mesh of influences, what is it that makes us and the objects we are related to authentic?