Monday, November 13, 2006

Another Way Of Looking At Myself

I seldom collaborate with other artists. Working with someone else requires a radical shift of intellectual and emotional balance to which I find it hard to accede. Most artists are innately egocentric and I'm no different: I want to explore themes that I'm interested in and I'm not usually open to the compromise that successful collaboration demands.
None of which explains why I have, a couple of times, agreed to model for photographers whose work I respect. I suspect it's because it is easier to regard it as an extension of the ruthlessly forensic self-examination of myself that underpins a lot of my own work. It also introduces some scary but energising variables: I am, by nature, a perfectionist, a control freak, a relentless obsessive compulsive, and yet I have to agree to surrender to someone else's perception of my identity, personality, and even sexuality in what is often an unfamiliar, discomforting context.
I allow the photographer to see me raw. I don't dress, or undress. I don't wear make-up. I don't consciously pose. A good photographer doesn't objectify, and good work is necessarily intimate, intriguing to look at, with different layers of intellectual, psychological, and emotional intensity. I rarely recognise myself in the resulting images.
Maybe it's because my own work can be so self-conscious and bound by ideas of (and objections to) how women are represented in traditional figurative art, advertising and mass media, especially in my work's early conceptual stages, being photographed enables me to to go somewhere I am unable to go on my own. It's also mindless, in the best sense of that word. I am aware of the photographer as he (or she) circles me, but I have no imaginative connection with whatever is seen through the viewfinder. In these moments – and in the moments, later, when I look at the final images – I feel a sort of peace.

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