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Monday, August 04, 2008

A Studio Is Not a Prison

I sent a letter today to The Sun magazine, responding to an article in last November's issue which I received as part of a trial sub (I'd subsequently decided money was too tight to continue it, and only recently had gotten around to reading the issues they sent me). Here's what I wrote:

Dear editor,

While I agree with Derrick Jensen's main point, I think he makes an inapt analogy in comparing zoos with pornography. He writes, "If I have a photograph, I have it forever, even if subsequently the woman withdraws her permission." This is different from a Wyeth painting or a Springsteen CD -- how?

When I've made artworks for my mother or my friend Khristina, I didn't say they couldn't give them to someone else, and so there's no way I could be assured of being able to retrieve them. And when I sing at an open mike or in the subway, I don't tell anyone that they can't record me.

In the same way, when I've offered to model for pornography, I haven't asked for any right to take back my image -- nor would I want to. Whether I'm giving someone my art, or singing to them, or modeling for them, I'm making a statement: This is who I am. If I kept a purchase on that piece of myself, so that I could take it back, I would be qualifying that statement -- making it with less confidence. It would, in fact, no longer be the statement I wanted to make.

So far from the irretrievability of pornography, like any willfully public expression, making it less authentic -- as Jensen would have us believe -- for us who choose to do it, this makes it more authentic.

Eric Hamell
Philadelphia, PA

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