An open call responding to Body of Work.
The artist put a call out for responses to her latest series, Body of Work. Using the starting point of a single image, the whole project or the theme(s) contained within the work, people responded with poems, short texts and other written works.
Scars? I have many, but when I disrobe and stand before the horseshoe of easels for the first time I wonder which they will see. Some are obvious: the playground knees, the birthmarks, removed, that have grown as I have. One above my right breast fading beneath a new sticky-outy mole. One on my left temple, often hidden by a fringe or a side-parting.
/ But what of all the others? / The small nicks from irons, knives chopping vegetables, misplaced furniture, misplaced self? / What else will their paper mark-making, their severe shading, reveal? / Coming to the surface, as if I am a human Magic 8 Ball shaken by their watch? / What horizons will they see in my blank canvas, distant stare? /
Scars, hands, genitals often go missing
in the quick sketches.
Instead artists study space, more prominent
facial features, split the body’s meat up
into shape, light, dark, angles
using charcoal, chalk, paint, laptops.
Project shards of themselves as they work,
layering their scars upon the model’s own.
Warning: Additional scars, if temporary, may occur on the day. The impact of prolonged leaning and propping with cushions. Slow-motion self-harm. Surface friction. Some grooves pin-shallow, other indents cheese-wire deep and beginning to smart.
/ Do I invite this? / ‘You must suffer for your art,’ they say / but should the artist’s model? / Limbs fire-licked as if they mark me on my body as well as the page? / As if their fingers and eyes have pressed down on me, holding my pose in place. /
Pink elbows, redder knees
think: carpet burns, eczema patches, playground scars
hopscotched and cross-hatched from the ground surface,
bedsheet-creased, as if just having woken from a long sleep.
Sofa buttons pressing their imprint onto nude surface,
skin raw, revealing body pressure points
before the model hides them under robe,
prepares to take the damage home.
“The whole room practices together the act of looking, of seeing, of making her whole.” - Christina Thatcher
Object / Subject
Written in response to Fra Beecher’s photography collection, Body of Work (2018-2020), which explores the physicality of the female life model.
She is learning to become
a wooden triangle, a sturdy cane,
a shallow stage. She knows
her body is both an original and a mimic.
She has seen how masking tape
can recreate, leave a testament
to her heels. She has started the process
of stepping out of her sex and into
Put her body to work. Her limbs know how
She has learned to trust the spinning-wheel but
not yet managed to reinterpret stares, to unshame,
unpick her whole self off the floor and walk
out of the studio steady. She is always
leaving impressions // receiving impressions.
She has not yet mastered the art of naked,
unstilted conversation. She watches how they shade her body:
like a pear, an apple, a squashed banana.
Artists omit more than just blocks and risers.
The whole room practices together the act
of looking, of seeing, of making her whole.
“[...]but as a precaution, as a means to prepare my body, I struggle to start that first, careful breath.” - Steven Kenward