Dec 102015

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Anton Büller

At my afternoon session in Prenzlauerberg, an obese artist paints me huge-bellied. Bastard – leaning over his grotesque gut to reach his canvas. But the artist beside him is worse, copying the drawing method of tediously mechanical Euan Uglow, who in turn honed his technique (according to a thing I read by Adrian Searle ) under the tutelage of equally anal William Coldsteam. These are guys who compute the information the eye receives in order to reproduce the human form with the technical precision of a surveyor’s plotlines. Passionless.

Come on a 3-month tourist visa in first instance, stay in this flat w/ me (uni campus) & write. I cn get you plenty cash-in-hand wrk as Art Nude photographic model, eg Shanghai Art Nude Grp. No more 2-hr poses in freezing Berlin cellars! Bel

I’m at the breakfast table, still in shock, re-reading Bel’s text. Shanghai!!! God, it would be amazing. And her promise of photographic work is uncanny, because one thing I realised in last night’s session is that contemporary Art Nude photography is not necessarily blokes photographing gorgeous birds naked. Was it ever?
    But… Bel. This weird photographer woman. She’s really nice but she barely speaks. We got friendly due to her project making fly-on-the-wall docu-movies of artists at work in life-rooms where I had bookings. But not that friendly… What do I know about her? Her website says she used to be a photo-journalist in places like Afghanistan, but that career seems to have abruptly ended. A bad experience? A nervous breakdown? I think she’s got Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or something. I once spotted her leaving my psychotherapist’s office as I was on my way in.
    And how old is she – fifty? Older? Early-retired? Her photography blog divulges nothing about family, hometown, partners, early life…
    Why invite me? Does she consider us close?

Hey – an email from Hong Kong Ron! You can view the photos from last night via Dropbox.    Dozens of images… I prop my iPad on the table for a good browse. Shifting aside Ilka’s current reading-matter, some words of an article by Susan Sontag (late partner of fantastic New York photographer Annie Leibowicz) leap out at me:

To photograph something is to appropriate it.’

Yawn. Feminist analysis is so single-track. Hong Kong Ron’s images are sensual, sexy; but that doesn’t mean he has ‘claimed ownership’ of me. There is texture, geometry, intricacy. They portray submission, trust, intimacy, ecstasy, pain, beauty. They are Art.

Why did Tamara set this up? She must still want me! I was the one who ended (by running off to Berlin) our brief flingette: a hedonistic riot of sex – her dominating, me submitting – and laughter, conducted in the windows her crazy schedule allowed. Tumultuous fun and pleasure – which is of course not sustainable in a long-term relationship.
    Or could it be?

Afternoon. My weekly session at the Volkshochschule. I get into pose, and into my head. First thought: why am I once again submitting myself to being mapped; turned into an architect’s plan? Whereas being photographed last night felt so sympathetic. That, too, was submission – to the rigger, and to the photographer. Yet the Master and Hong Kong Ron were humane towards me – to my body – in a way that many artists are not.
    But on to more pressing matters. I must urgently consider my three options:

1) stay in Berlin with Ilka. Get fatter. Get more depressed. Never have a laugh. Never write again.
2) Shanghai! Amazing… But I think Bel’s got issues, and I’m rubbish at dealing with mental health (scares me).
3) Return to UK. Write books living with Tamara. Let her dominate me, tell me what to do (I need that); make me shut up and listen (no mean feat), kneel at her feet, obey her… I love all that. Maybe “fun” really can be permanent!

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