‘She fancies you, right?’
I am ramming underwear into my suitcase’s remaining nooks and crannies. ‘Ha ha. Dunno if she’s even a dyke.’
‘She wouldn’t have invited you otherwise.’
‘She wants me for an Art Nude photographic project.’
‘Photography isn’t Art.’
‘I can’t believe you said that! The “photography isn’t Art” debate is anachronistic, tired and anyway stupid.’ (Pause) ‘Okay I just read that in The Guardian. But it’s what I think.’
Ilka is in hard-line mode. ‘As Susan Sontag said, paintings and drawings of an image are considered to be interpretations whereas photographed images are viewed as miniatures of reality. i.e. documentary, not Art.’
‘I read that article of hers. I think you’ll find she goes on to say that photos are still interpretations, shaped by the photographer’s own taste.’ I will win this argument. I fetch the book from the top of the fridge where it got tidied to, turn to the article and read:
‘In deciding how a picture should look; in preferring one exposure to another, photographers are always imposing standards on their subjects. The 1930s photographers of the ‘Farm Security Administration’… blah blah blah… took dozens of pictures of their sharecropper subjects until satisfied with the precise facial expression that supported their own notions about poverty, light, dignity, texture, exploitation, and geometry…’
‘Whatever, Suki. As far as I’m concerned, photography is just another imposition of male supremacy and control.’
‘That comment is straight from the joyless, outdated feminism of your bookcase. Look at Lee Miller – she was totally liberated as a model! Right back in, like, 1920! Like, totally free in her sexual behaviour and attitudes. Multiple lovers and stuff. Polyamorous. I mean, even nowadays most people are possessively monogamous, but she wasn’t. Polyamory is still even today associated with kink rather than being what the mainstream wants.’
Stony silence from Ilka.
I persist in having the final word. Even though it’s stupid. ‘That ‘male gaze’ theory, the one that says all the looking in the world is from men’s viewpoint and for their exclusive pleasure – it’s so 1970s. It’s so over.’
Ilka is now by the door. ‘Suki, I’ve got an overnight in Leipzig again. A work thing. So I won’t be here when…’
‘Good. Coz we hate goodbyes, don’t we.’
The door closes behind her.
Tsk. She has never once stood up to me.
…Does Bel fancy me?
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