Thursday, December 9, 2021

A Famous French Photographer Took Pictures of Me in the "Makings Room"

Look at all of that garbage on the walls.
I got a random email from a photographer, Gill Rivard. Gill said he was a “relatively famous photographer based in France” and was spending some time in the US. In the email, Gill basically outlined a long road trip. On the road trip, he was trying to get some work done. When I asked why me (this took a couple of emails) he told me about a friend in France. This friend, someone I’ve sent mail-art to for years, had shown him some of my work. “I looked down on a table one visit” Gill said “and there was a pile of mail. One of the envelopes came from you.” The mail-artist even passed along my blog address where I shared pictures of my workspace. Gill is interested in workspaces, if you’re fancy and French, my atelier. The emails were timed perfectly since his road trip was coming up through Georgia and into North Carolina, as he and his travel companion Rose, made it back to New York.

I didn’t spend too much time on giving him a “yes.” Normally I say yes to most things people ask of me, especially if I’ve never done them before. Might as well try. Why not say yes to making something for a book, doing a record cover, or having a small art show at a movie theater? If things don’t work out at least I can get a story out of it. 

Smoldering intensity.
Gil and Rose showed up right on time. They hung out it in my kitchen as I poured them both a cup of coffee. Rose didn’t say all that much. We mostly figured out a plan for our shoot. He showed me some of the other places he’d shot over the course of his month long trip, I was impressed. He told me the name of one artist after the other, none of which I knew. Unless they’re mail-art people, I’m not going to know them. The big idea was to spend most of our time upstairs in my actual workspace. Somehow he had missed the basement garage where I also make things. “I want to get that too” he said.

The two of us wondered upstairs. At the top of the stairs he marveled at the thrift store paintings on the wall. He asked a few questions about where I got this one or that one. He focused on a couple paintings I had of women sitting in chairs form the 1960’s. “These are beautiful” he said. ‘We can get some pictures in here, too.”

It was only a few minutes in my main space (I really need a name for it) before he took out his camera and started shooting. He gave me a few directions but mostly I posed in front of my desk. I also did some “fake work” at my desk. He’d stop taking pictures for a second and then look at stuff on the walls. In five minutes his tone started to change.  He was a lot more direct, a lot more serious. At first, I couldn’t tell what was going on, but I soon started to understand. “I want you to take your shirt off and stand in front of your desk” he told me. “You want me to do what” I asked? “Shirt…off!” At “shirt off” is where the photo shoot ends. Didn’t want to get wrapped up in that. No one was going to look at those pictures except for Gill, no one!

I started scooting him towards the door, down the steps, and into the living room. There I told Rose they were leaving. Rose didn’t look surprised. It seems they might have been performing the whole shirt off bit throughout the lower half of the United States. At least he sent me the pictures of the shoot. 

These are fake makings.


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