1119 words Do not adjust your set, image is deliberately blurry!
I’ve been thinking about relationships between visual and media based artists and their models a lot lately. In the process I’ve also revisited the idea of interactions between artists and their muses as a somewhat tortured (often unconsummated) power dynamic (I write my best poetry when in this situation, but I don’t necessarily recommend it), and also begun to consider the idea of artists and their erotic/kinky collaborators. If #SinfulSunday is anything to go on many kinksters do work collaboratively with husbands, partners, etc to produce images (and in some cases video’s) of each other.
While I’ve often worked as a visual arts model, this has largely been a matter of me falling into poses and artists drawing or painting what was in front of them. All relatively staid – though I have been regarded by some as a TULS (had to get that prompt in there somehow) when I’ve been working. One callow, self-righteous student once assured me it was actually just another form of sex work though he called it prostitution (shrugs shoulders). I wasn’t even blogging back then but I’ve no doubt I’d now be a super slut in his eyes.
But I digress…
Working in front of a camera is certainly different to working as an artist’s model. The sessions I’ve engaged in so far are more mobile, with both of us moving at different points. They are generally far more interactive and feel somewhat more collaborative, even when the photographer is working on an idea I’ve proposed. There seems to be more of a need for the photographer to be directive when trying to capture a particular aesthetic or emotion. And in some instances I’ve experienced the need for the person behind the lens to physically intervene – rearranging the drape of a garment or hair to frame a more pleasing image.
It’s clear to me that many of the photographs I see on #SinfulSunday are the result of people’s desire to better themselves at their art and artistic collaboration as well as engage in exhibitionist/voyeuristic tendencies (to say nothing of other kinks). In fact I can’t help but suspect that anyone who has paid out cash for a halfway decent camera is almost as much into the obsessions of photography as they are into some of their other kinks, although I’m willing to be corrected on that (hands, floggers and paddles only please). Having gone out on a limb there, as someone whose modelling work has been entirely framed within a professional, artistic and mainstream dynamic, I’ve been intrigued with various accounts of the way D/s relationships influence photographic sessions playing on exhibitionism, voyeurism and temperature play, and I’d frankly like to know more.
While I’ve never had an artist/model relationship – in either direction – in which I am also sexually involved or in a power dynamic; my interactions with my long time friend and artistic collaborator Sara, are always flirty, sexy and mildly erotic. But we’ve known each other a long time despite the 20 year age gap and our discussions on matters sexual and relational are frank and engaging. I’ve passed on sex toys and sexual advice to her, she was an enthusiastic mentor in my interaction with John Oh and she’s the only one I trust to deal with my sex toy collection when I drop off the twig. She thinks nothing of asking me to get my kit off, but she’s never expressed an interest in seeing or sharing my pink bits. Although what that means if we do eventually do rope work together I have no idea.
As you would expect the interaction between the two of us is very different from the dynamic between myself and my new friend and photographer Craig who took some of the red caftan shots as well as the latest ArtTwist images. I am enjoying exploring ideas with him but so far its been a matter of me asking for what I want from a shoot – not the other way round, although that seems set to change in the near future. And while to date we are collaborating around the idea of an image we are not yet jointly conceptualising and collaborating on ideas to bring something new to life – though I really hope we do. Our explorations have been fairly mild as far as photo shoots go, despite the partial nudity in the first lot. But a good percentage of #SinfulSunday images fall into this category too. Assuming he and I continue our creative collaboration I don’t know how adventurous the photographs we make together will become, but I’d certainly interested in pushing the artistic and aesthetic boundaries, and I believe he will too. As for any other boundaries only time will tell…
Of course historically artists and models have often collaborated artistically while enjoying a sexual and/or kink relationship. Private artists collections are replete with erotica, and there is undoubtedly an extra sizzle in a lot of the works made by those in hot sexual collaboration, but I wonder does there come a point where the demands of the art over-ride the erotic side of things or vice versa?
And in what ways does it shift over the life of a relationship/collaboration?
I love the idea of being involved in an erotic/kink artist/model relationship for the purposes of producing works and challenging/charging each other up. And yes I do love the idea of photography sessions that merge art and sex or kinky interaction in whatever form. But I’m also conscious of the fact that at the moment as a society we are having discussions about the legalities of sexy photographic images taken during a relationship and shared without permission in the aftermath of a breakup. Purely from an academic point of view I wonder where that leaves artists/models especially if the canvases are not in the public domain?
And it may not simply be the matter of an artist exploiting the model – what about the (admittedly hypothetical) issue of an artist destroying works created in collaboration with a model, despite her/his wishes to the contrary?
Of course it’s also a question of trust, expectations and boundaries and while I’m much more wary about getting involved in any form of ongoing sexual relationship, than I have been in the past, I’m not as starry eyed and far more clear than I’ve ever been about what I do and don’t want. I’m liking the idea friendship and a gradual process of deepening collaboration. It has the potential for a whole new form of intimacy for me, one that is strongly rooted on collaboration, friendship, independence and exploration rather than romanticism…
And of course an appreciation of art.
For a little about the artist/model connection as viewed through the life of Gustav Klimt see the latest ArtTwist prompt #3.