Friday, March 27, 2009

Skinned, Nothing Like Fur

Some readers have suggested that finding models should be easy for me. Actually, it's almost impossible. The pay is negligible, the hours are long, and my demands are several. And that's even before we get to the knotty question of nudity, which, in the resultant work, is sometimes translated into graphic depictions of sexual acts. Not exactly the stuff of art school life classes.
In the past, I've tried to work with friends. A good idea in theory but in practice, the discomfort they feel as I subject them – almost without being aware of it – to what I've described before as a rigorously forensic study not only of their bodies but also their psyches can be discomforting.
Part of the problem is, when I'm working, I'm ruthless, selfish and probably exploitative (although I do try to maintain a semblance of empathy and care). In these respects, I'm rather like the predatory Diane Arbus, as she was described by Australian über-feminist and author, Germaine Greer, who regretted her decision to pose for the late photographer in a room at the Chelsea Hotel in New York, in 1971:
"... she asked me to lie on the bed, flat on my back on the shabby counterpane.
"I did as I was told. Clutching the camera she climbed on to the bed and straddled me, moving up until she was kneeling with a knee on both sides of my chest. She held the Rolleiflex at waist height with the lens right in my face. She bent her head to look through the viewfinder on top of the camera, and waited. In her viewfinder I must have looked like a guppy or like one of the unfortunate babies into whose faces Arbus used to poke her lens so that their snotty tear-stained features filled her picture frame. I knew that at that distance anybody's face would have more pores than features. I was wearing no make-up and hadn't even had time to wash my face or comb my hair.
"Pinned on the bed by her small body with the big camera in my face, I felt my claustrophobia kick in; my heart-rate accelerated and I began to wheeze. I understood that as soon as I exhibited any signs of distress, she would have her picture. She would have got behind the public persona of
Life cover-girl Germaine Greer, the 'sexy feminist that men like'.
"I concentrated on breathing deeply and slowly, and keeping my face blank. If it was humanly possible I would stop my very pupils from dilating. Immobilised between her knees I denied her, for hour after hour. Arbus waited me out. Nothing would happen for minutes on end, until I sighed, or frowned, and then the flash would pop. After an eternity she climbed off me, put the camera back in her bag and buggered off."
– from Wrestling With Diane Arbus by Germaine Greer, published in The Guardian newspaper, 8th October, 2005.
If that doesn't put someone off, then yes, they're probably an ideal subject. If they're between 19 and 35 years of age, female, reasonably fit, uninhibited, creative and/or smart, they should email me a photo and tell me about themselves. But they can't say they haven't been warned.
(Oh, a couple of plusses: I serve wonderful lunches and the view from my studio is amazing.)


Mona said...

What a pity I am too old!!!(HA!)

matt said...

I'd love to watch you work. That, would be an experience.

Mona said...

That is called voyeurism. Involvement & participation have to be what it is all about!
I an still wondering if i should go for botox/plastic surgery/any new fangled fing to take years off! (Hazel - can you draw in soft focus?) OH & maybe there is the small (Huffily-what you mean small?)of gender reassignment! It ain't gonna happen is it?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, i'm with Mona – wanting to watch is just a bit too much a male cliché and I'm pretty sure the last thing HD would encourage.

Jessica said...

If you're ever in Montreal (or happen to be in the Pacific Northwest at a coinciding time) I'd model in a heartbeat for you. I consider myself 'plush' but reasonably fit... Aside, I know a few here in Montreal who'd be willing to subject themselves to your scrutiny for the sake of art and lunch ;) So if you're ever out this way!

JenXer said...

I have the convenient cop-out economy pack: too old, too fat, and covered in scars.

All the damage this body has taken is passive- things I've had done to me, (to fix developmental problems,and other flaws of biology) and not the result of things I've sought out (such as sports).

This is the kind of experience I would seek out, if my body weren't holding me back- I know my mind is up to the discomfort.

Anonymous said...

I have had the same problem. Although I do need my models/participants to go further, to interact with one another. A tough call. Once again for little money and the demands of a long photoshoot.

I've been looking for more natural models, regular folk and I'm not as concerned about body perfection. There are people (mostly men) who excitedly offer their services only to chicken out at the last minute!

Like JenXer, I would gladly model but my body is short, too fat and out of shape. I am also too old but have the good fortune of looking younger than my years although this is no consolation when my body isn't right for the job!

Tiara the Merch Girl said...

And here I am, utterly desiring to be an art model - whatever the pay or hours - and no idea where to start! It seems that all the awesome artists intimidate me a little, like I'm just small fry and who am I to ask to be your muse.

Does size 12/14 count as reasonably fit?

Tiara the Merch Girl said...

And here I am, desirious to model for art, willing to take on long hours and little pay and contortions into weird shapes, and not much confidence to ask! It's kinda intimidating, I feel like you or anyone else whose style I admire have a lot more better things to do than consider me as a model.

(Does size 12/14 count as reasonably fit?)