The first time I ever collaborated with another artist was on a painting for a group exhibition. It was a modest work and because of an unsurprising imbalance in our relationship – I was young, female and less well known, then, than him – my contribution, both conceptual and physical, was gradually erased under layers of paint he added against my wishes. The experience put me off both the artist himself and the whole idea of collaboration.Reluctantly, I agreed to try it once more with another male artist. I began by posing for him, naked, but during the course of a two hour photographic shoot, he drew me out of the submissive, passive role of model and encouraged me to contribute to the unexpectedly fast-moving process of isolating the 'moment' that was to become the single image from the session. We signed both our names to the limited edition print.
I collaborated again when I 'performed' in images of lesbian sex for my first solo photographic show, this year. For that same show, I also asked a handful of acquaintances to allow me to view proof sheets of their photographs of casual sexual encounters, from which I chose images I would then print to my own specifications for the exhibition. In the exhibition itself, no differentiation was made between the works I shot myself and the works others shot of me or of situations that had nothing at all to do with me (other than my printing the resultant images).These various photographic collaborations raise intriguing and maybe unresolvable questions about the nature of 'authorship' and the artist's influence – as model, photographer, director or curator – in the final images. For me, the 'right', such as it is, to a claim of authorship, sole or shared, derives from the fundamental decisions I impose on the final work. In some of the collaborations, decisions were shared and so was the credit. In others, including ones not shot by me but which I edited and printed and gave some 'meaning' to by creating a context for them, it is not.There are other examples of 'shared' authorship: in several of my watercolours, the use of handwriting as texture is at the expense of various, uncredited short poems and passages of descriptive prose that I have excerpted – with permission – from the works of others.