Monday, January 26, 2009

Unexpected Recognition

Each evening after work I check my mails. I have quite a few different email addresses, for different purposes, but basically they all go to two accounts.
So today I’m about to check my “spam account”, but when I see their front page I stop dead. “Someone stole our idea!” is my first thought. But it doesn’t linger long because I realize that the photograph shown there is not an imitation, but indeed the one I took with some fellow students years ago.

The headline beside the picture says “Old masters in new splendour” and a small text says something about a project at a university. One click and I get to another page where the picture is shown bigger. No doubt – it’s ours. With me sitting there in the background.

The picture was made a few years ago. During studying I took a course in photography. We worked in teams of four, and the professor gave us several tasks. It was really mostly about learning the handicraft, not so much about artistic expression. We had to imitate pictures or scribbles he gave us, mostly. Some of it was more freestyle work. One of those was re-enacting a painting.
I can’t recall who had the idea, it wasn’t me because I’m not an art expert and I didn’t know that particular painting. Apparently the green party had already used a re-enactment of it on a poster once. Gabrielle d'EstrĂ©es et une de ses soeurs. It shows two naked women in a bath, with a servant in the background. Of course me and the other girl in the team did not mean at all to get undressed for it. The idea was to make the two guys do it. They weren’t particularly thrilled. One of them was a (nearly) nude model for the drawing lessons of the same professor, so at least for him it wasn’t about showing a naked breast, I guess. Of course the problem was that it might “look gay”, especially since he had to pinch the other guys nipple. But somehow we managed to convince them. The actual photo was taken by the other girl. We took the picture of me separately and photoshopped it in later.

Upon reading the actual article, it turns out that our professor has published a book with more re-enactments of old paintings. Probably he assigned this task to every course after ours (we were the first). Our picture is on the cover.

So… I’m on the cover of a book. Not bad, I guess.
Also, something I made (together with others) is published. Not bad either.
I admit I am only small in the background of the picture and also I only had a medium share in making it. But still.
And not only the book. The article was teasered on the front page of two of the major German freemail providers. I’m really glad it wasn’t me who showed their bare breast!

Of course I’ll have to buy the book, it’s not expensive, 10€.
I’ll also have to deal with the negative comments on it. There are already a few in the website. But it doesn’t bother me much. You can hardly see me, the picture is years old and it was never meant to be published. I never considered it as an attempt at art either. IT was just a fun thing to do for a good grade. Actually, I can’t remember the grade we got…

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