Rob Mellink: May I... ? | Portfolio

The pictures for ‘May I…?’ were made during my single encounters with amateur models in hotel rooms.

The stripping before the camera, the subjection of the model to the photographer and the provocative and seductive looks to the camera, are themes that refer to classic ingredients of pornography and fashion photography.

In this fashionable world the interaction between photographer, model and camera is put on edge. But if this game supposes an interaction between two opponents, why is it that we rarely see a real glimp of that interaction in the final picture? Does the camera not merely serve to keep the photographer ‘out of the image’? And does the fashion-picture, after heavy post-processing, still give us room to reflect on the medium of photography itself? Why do we in this case still refer so strongly to the qualifications of ‘real’ and ‘pure’ and ‘clean’?

Without a camera I’m merely a voyeur. But isn’t the photographer a voyeur by definition? Does he not subject its subject to his curious, controlling gaze? A perverse gaze that can only be satisfied by the act of looking itself? Is the ‘guilty’ pleasure of looking without being seen not always present in the core of photography? The camera as a synonym for the keyhole.

I explore the fascination of watching and the attraction of the one I am looking at, from behind the mask of the photographer’s eye. But would the one I’m watching at, grant me permission to do so, if I hadn’t appeared to her as a ‘photographer’?

The pictures of May I...? show a repeating ritual where the interaction of business transaction and human association between the two strangers causes an estrangement where both model and photographer appeal to their own and to each other’s expectations, wishes, roles, desires and insecurities. Over the years I’ve seen many cunts and tits, but I don’t remember any of them. I don’t even remember looking at ... It were the looks I remember. That’s what occupied me.

I take pictures of naked girls. They witness my silent gaze. I pay them to stare at them. 

www.robmellink.com 

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