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Rights of Life Models

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"Dear RAM, I wish to complain . . ."

Jim Jenkins is currently posing for a sculpture class where photography and touching of the model are deemed essential. And there are always people who are not part of the class wandering in and out. He is actually very much enjoying the job and it has prompted him to write this article.

>Photography and touching of models while posing are dealt with in the Contentious Issues section of the RAM Guidelines. In the case of photography, there are only two firm conclusions. One is that it is entirely up to the model to impose any conditions of his or her choosing or, indeed, to ban photography altogether. The other is that if it is agreed that photos can be taken, a model release form should be provided and signed by both parties. On the delicate subject of the touching of models while posing, the Guidelines are unable to come up with any conclusion other than the fudge that models who suspect they've been touched while posing for reasons other than artistic ones have a right to complain to the employer (and not, by implication, to RAM).

The reason we have washed our hands (as it were) of this issue is that the objection to being touched while posing nude is generally of more concern to female models, and female models rarely attend the quarterly meetings at which the Guidelines are formulated and amended. The same applies to the issue of people who are neither students nor tutors being allowed to wander into the room while the model is posing.  In fact, this issue has not, as yet, entered the Guidelines at all.  Someone put a notice about it on the Notice Board we used to have on this site and Vic Stevens answered it, but here I intend to look at it from a rather different angle.  In fact, the views I shall express here on all three subjects - photography, touching and intruders - are probably controversial.

Firstly, photography.  For most sculptors and sculpture students, it is extremely useful to be able to photograph the model.  There are a number of reasons for this.  A pose lasting for many weeks can easily 'evolve' but this can be prevented by taking pictures from angles at the start and pinning them up.  Also, a piece may not be finished before the model's block of bookings comes to an end.  Or, God forbid, the model may cancel the rest of the block.  I would say that for sculpture bookings models should be prepared to allow photography with no conditions other than the usual one of a model release form (restricting the usage of the photographs) being completed and signed and that the Guidelines should say so.

Being touched while posing has been known to elicit extreme reactions from some models.  However, for sculptors and sculpture students working in ways that demand great attention to anatomical detail, there is actually no alternative to having a good feel of the model, to work out what is bone and what is tendon, for example.  In fact, in some classes, you can expect this to be going on all the time, sometimes with several students at once.  So once again, where sculpture at least is concerned, I would like the Guidelines to make it clear that this could legitimately be a very touchy-feely area of activity for models to get into.

The issue of persons unknown wandering about while you are posing has never in fact been an issue at all for me.  I don't get it.  If you are going to appear naked in front of total strangers it seems irrelevant whether they are there to draw you, to inspect the class on behalf of the Department of Education or to change the light bulb.  Occasionaly, it is even possible to derive amusement from the obvious embarrassment of some unsuspecting guests who are being shown round.

Perhaps more models should be prepared to accept that minor irritations like being photographed, groped and prodded by students and tutors and eyed by passers-by all go with the territory and get stuck instead into the important issues like low pay and bad working conditions. That would represent a useful shift of energy.

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