I’ve been rooting through my archives today trying to find a certain picture I took back in 2008. I was studying Photography in the Arts at university and often liked to set myself little side projects every now and then to test my limitations and to extend my boundaries. Nothing much has changed since then. I’m still dabbling in other things as and when the mood takes me. I think it’s healthy to have variety in the diet and to take risks.
I’ve been working with self-portraits for more than 7 years now and back in those early days I remember having arguments about nudity with my tutors. I always refused to be naked despite being told repeatedly that nudity in art is ‘classical’ and a ‘blank canvas’ for the viewer to form an opinion over. This may be the case in some circles but as soon as you get naked for the camera you’re risking a whole heap of misinterpretations and misrepresentations.*
As I was developing my self-portraiture work I remember eventually using a standard set of clothing as my ‘blank canvas’. For me this was my trademark little red & grey dress which I bought in Amsterdam in 2009. I still like to use that uniform in photoshoots every now and then. I also remember writing a whole essay on uniforms and uniformity to justify why clothes are some of the best ways to show portray neutrality of the human form.
This photograph is the only photograph I think I have approaching nudity. For me, being naked is something I share with only certain people and in certain situations. I share so much of the rest of me the rest of the time that this is the one thing that I keep for myself. It’s important for me to hold something back so that I can have my privacy. Of course no rule is set in stone and every self-imposed law contains a degree of flexibility.
This is why I’ll always make an exception for moments like this when it’s necessary to flash the world…
*In my work as an educator of children and vulnerable adults it’s just not appropriate to have naked pictures of oneself flying about all over the place. It’s a fine line between responsibility and freedom of expression.