1/We met in Paris, both of us came from a bi-cultural and artistic background, we were part of a group of friends our main interests were the art world, we all were exploring and the world was our oyster. I was starting my make up career, you were modeling, yet we would spent a lot of time, being creative and looking for sources of inspiration, going to museum, meeting artists etc….You were working for top photographes and magazines, it was clear to me at the time that you were an inspiration for them, not only for your looks but also for your natural understanding of the art world and your ability to embrasse other cultures, atmospheres, your sources of inspirations were countless. You were a beautiful women, but much more than that. Is there anyway that you could explain, what the actual input and presence a model has to give to a photographer or to a stylists to interprete what they are looking for?
I think it is interesting when a model starts to work almost exclusively with one photographer as they seem to start to shared journey together. In my own experience I found that ‘trust’ was a key element within this relationship. It is such a personal thing as you can imagine, to be paid money because of how you look. So this trust you give to the photographer, to share yourself with him or her is quite something when you look at it. What is being asked of you is to give ‘yourself’ to the product or the clothes in a way that is very intimate. I often found it quite terrifying if I am honest! I am sure there are a lot of models who would agree with this description. It is quite an incongruous mix of something which is deeply personal yet at the same time entirely about the commoditisation of the female body. There is a gentleness and a brutality. so like any relationship where these two elements coexist there is a balance one is always trying to strike. I am not sure I always got that one right!
2/Could you give precise exemples of your contribution to a photographe or other art creation?
When I lived in New York I was friends with a few of the big names around at that time in the 80’s. for example Julian Schnabel and Francesco Clemente. Clemente and I used to have many conversations about people and life and I have an ink drawing he made of me at that time, hanging in my house. a lot of Francescos work was and remains dream like and very sexual yet also about what it is to be human and where that sits in the world of myth and fable.
My particular painting is a portrait where I am sitting with my skirt raised and by arms bent in an embrace. Originally I was meant to have my legs open with no underwear on whilst holding a cat (pussy). I was far too shy to cooperate! So now we have a portrait of ‘ghosts’. nothing between my legs and my arms holding air. Perhaps this was more true. I also have a portrait of myself when I was 18 taken by a young Mario Testino who needed at the time to test his lighting on various friends.
3/ Being beautiful is an asset but it can also create a barrier if only the surface prevails, making the person invisible locked inside a perfect physique. How do you put other facettes of your personnality across, in other words (not just a pretty face)?
It’s interesting what you said about how looks can create a barrier or a prison for a person, which lets not forget might not only be for someone ‘beautiful’, this same prison could exist for someone who is ‘unattractive’. Notice I use inverted commas! I think intelligence is key to what guides the looks of anyone. It would not be original of me to talk about using ones assets positively whatever they may be but I certainly think for me at least intelligence means a degree of creativity in ones life. To be creative is to think outside the box. That box might also be your body or your face. It is vital to develop yourself to work hard and be psychologically rigourous. You need above all to be very honest with yourself and your life and your choices. This is what can liberate you, not just your pretty face!
4/Today you are an artist yourself and how has this experience of modelling helped you in the expression of your art?
I have just finished my training as an Art Psychotherapist so my art has taken a back seat but interestingly apropos this conversation I have in the past drawn heavily on the themes here. Inside/outside is close to my heart. Who we are is both a physical reality and yet it is also deeply rooted in the ‘invisible’ unconscious, the land of dreams and imagination are also quite physical in my view.
I remember my degree show at Chelsea College of Art was a film I made of myself in a suit of armour struggling to stand as I was fascinated by the idea of our human need to protect ourselves and yet that which seeks to protect us can also be our downfall. Again there is this duality which shows our continuous struggle for balance.
5/ I have often heard girl friends who are not in the industry, feel to be made uncomfortable about not having a models physique, I would like them to understand that there is more to it than meet the eye. Is there anything that you could tell them?
There is nothing you can say to anyone who struggles with their physique, looks whatever. Even the most beautiful of models despite being on a podium for her beauty might have a life long struggle to believe that she is so!
I think we are all here to fufill our unique journey and life is about finding out how we can be of service to others then and only then can we discover ourselves, our true self worth. When we can radiate that..well that is what real beauty is!
Ana is now an Art psychotherapist and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org