August 7, 2021
The model was not ashamed, since she felt distinct from the well-defined drawings that were made of her. She rather saw herself as a floating compound of the drawing room — not a pure soul, but something less neatly embodied.

As such, her defense mechanism resembled that of the cuttlefish, who conceals his retreat behind a cloud of ink. But upon close study, the model was the ink, no more the animal: hiding behind the obviousness of a body, she withdrew in a mist she identified with.



August 2, 2021
My mother was a professor in mathematics. As a daily activity, she used to cover scrap paper and blackboards with digits, figures and braces. She had a good drawing hand.

Every now and then, she used to take me to her office. I observed her tracing these arabesques, and I accepted that the sense of these things would always escape me, and I liked them for this precise reason.

I was just dazzled by the sureness of her movement, by her ability to dive into a mathematical model, and unravel its mysteries through a series of empty signs.

But she performed all this in a mundane way. She produced clarity like a laundress crafts cleanness. She was making a living by this repetitive task.

Next to her, the drafts were neatly piling up. Most of them failed to solve the problem, and she had to start again.

One searches for researchers who find, and one finds researchers who search. She felt entitled to a certain amount of pointlessness, for she was paid to perform the skilled sacrifice of her time, without always hitting the nail on the head.

The signs supporting such unfruitful attempts remained mere decorations. I was allowed to draw on the verso of these sheets. The childish sun, grass, and animals on the back remained far removed from the beauty of nature, just as the skillful signs on the recto kept a certain distance with the unspeakable beauty of the mathematical truth.



July 24, 2021
What should my weight be for the volume of my body to equal that of 43 ostrich eggs?, mathematical conversation with my mother, 2021



July 20, 2021
To soak ink up like a drawing, cuttlefish ink, glass, drawing room, person, 2021 



June 20, 2021
She liked drawing her. Not exactly because of her calm, rather for the slight changes of expression each moment casted on her face, which yet remained serene. She could relate to this face as Anton Mauve related to his dunes (swift clouds on an otherwise placid landscape). 



May 27, 2021

A work is finished when it redoubles the model's physical engagement.

Picture after: Skeleton and model, by Ryan Somma, retrieved from: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Cryptobranchus_alleganiensis


May 26, 2021
She could only teach
what she had learned:
not how to draw a hand
— but the desire to seize,
and the desire not to seize.



May 25, 2021
The painter showed his pupil how each element reflected light, in such a way that neighbouring objects discretely shared similar shades, leading to an overarching unity in the colouring of the image.

“In this way,” he explained, “you will notice how drapery lightens the skin of the model, while the model reflects an earthly tone in the otherwise immaculate drapery she lays on. All the elements of a given room participate in the same painterly coherence.”

In her mind, the model addressed other wishes to the pupil: “May you one day look even further than he does, and paint your own reflected light, as you also belong to the scene you are observing.”



May 13, 2021
Heard while posing:

By now we quite know what she looks like; yet, no one knows what she actually thinks.

I hushed and did not say:

I am aware of it all, and can feel the mapping of my skin, or the measuring of my skull – what this skull contains remains my own.

Another voice raised:

Maybe she elaborates a grocery list?

This very idea scared me: the idea of inner worlds containing nothing but grocery lists.



May 12, 2021

Personal measurements, as noted by a group of sculptors, May 2021


 
May 7, 2021
Imagined backsides, fineliner and mechanical pencil, 2021


April 16, 2021
“I refuse to symbolise the human face,” the egg-shape asserted, “as the only thing I stand for is an unborn chicken.”


 
March 25, 2021
Today I posed in an ugly room, and at first, I felt little affinity with my surroundings. But as I changed position, my eyes fell on an anatomical plate, a plaster relief, representing an écorché from the side.

I could behold the muscles of his neck — slender, almost vegetal, apparently shaped by the wish to reach the sun. I looked at him with the same involvement as he did, his flat face turned towards the slit of the curtains, which remained closed.

The pose was soon over, and so was the afternoon: I could approach the plate from close-up, and tried to photograph it. But the scene lacked light, and I had to open the curtains. Behind them, on the window sill, appeared five casts of a fennel.

I briefly considered stealing them - this transgression seemed almost natural, as though my own organs had gone afield, and that I could recollect them. But however mine, I left these anatomies where they were, resting in their own sun.

Still life at the Breitner academy, 2021 Still life at the Breitner academy, 2021


February 23, 2020

"Jeder neue Gegenstand, wohl beschaut, schließt ein neues Organ in ons af." [1]

[1] unnamed German poet, quoted in: Gaston Bachelard, La Poétique de la rêverie, PUF, Paris, 1984 (1960), p.143


February 20, 2021
Performance without public, KABK, The Hague, 2021



February 5, 2021


I told her I had conceived this work while sitting still, as I was working as a model in an art academy. I was focusing on the air I shared with the room, visualising each breath as a balloon, as a vessel, and, later on, as a clay whistle. I wondered about the sound of such a whistle; and, back home, I realised the object which had been in my mind.



She listened to the lamenting tone, and concluded: "The very nature of sound is to expand and fill up the room; but this sound stays where it is, it does not seek to conquer its surroundings. The object fits the situation where it has been conceived. It is, so to say, a sedentary sound".



January 25, 2021
Studio situation with bodily-proportioned ocarina, 2021


January 20, 2021

How High Is my Head Here, two sketches, fine liner on paper, 2021  


December 28, 2020
You asked me what I had thought about while sitting still, and I stayed mute.

You assumed that my thoughts had vanished like thin air; yet I could feel their weight as I tried to utter them (the thoughts of a whole afternoon, entangled in my throat, like an owl pellet).

Deep down, I sensed this reflux, as no word was uttered.



December 11, 2020 
Sketches for the 27 breaths of Artemis, fineliner on inkjet print, 2020



November 7, 2020
‘I Could Breathe My Own Foreignness Like Any Sort Of Oceanic Smell’, handwritten caption on old postcard, 2020 



October 15, 2020
The drawing conveyed the unease of a talented amateur: perfectly suckable breasts, but a nose one can't breathe through.



October 9, 2020
It is arbitrary to define photography as the 'Writing of Light', as the etymology suggests it. At first, the invention of photography also inspired other neologisms to describe this technique. Each of them appeared equally accurate.

These different terms derived from a limited number of Greek roots: phusis, auté, graphé, eikon, parastasis, aléthès:
Physautography (Writing of Nature Herself),
Parautophyse (Representation of Nature Herself),
Alétophyse (True Nature),
Phusalétotype (True Type of Nature),
Iconautophyse (Image of Nature Herself)... [1]

***

“Iconautophyse,” the model thought as she posed, “would also be suited to describe the image I am conceiving in my mind. The Image of Nature Herself is what I wish to draw, while being drawn after nature.”


[1] Monique Sicard, “La photo-graphie, entre nature et artefact”, in: Philippe Descola (dir), La Fabrique des Images, published by Somogy, Paris, 2010, p.116



September 26, 2020
I bear my bareness 
as soldiers wear armours
and hermit crabs their shells.

(alles in orde)



September 16, 2020
I sat down, he sculpted
the Head of Medusa;
no one got petrified.


September 11, 2020 
‘Rectified anatomical self-portrait as 27 exhales’, fineliner on paper, 2020



September 5, 2020 


This is a building I am familiar with. It hosts a small art academy and is situated in the Pieterskerksgracht in Leiden. As a model, I have often looked out of the windows of the first floor. Yet, I never got a clear image of the architecture of the building, as the tree in the foreground (here a mere trunk on the left, hardly thicker than a twig) has grown large enough to hide the edifice behind a mist of greenery.

Here I can see: the windows I looked through are actually topped with inscriptions. Carved in stone, the words of the left window read: 'Rust baart lust', and the other ones: 'Lust met Godt rust'. I do not know if this motto was meant to refer to the artist's work, but it seems an accurate statement regarding the model's activity (sitting on a chair, beholding well-developed trees, pleased with the view).


(cropped picture from Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed)



August 30, 2020
The artist captured appearances;
and the model arresting them
could be held responsible 
for half of the poaching.



August 27, 2020


I wonder, the model thought,
how many times I need to breathe in and out 
to totally absorb the room enclosing me; 
provided I can breathe a liter at a time; 
that the life class is six meters by five, 
and four meters high.

(image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filter_feeder)



June 19, 2020


In Leonardo da Vinci’s eyes, the human brain appeared wonderfully fluffy. One of his anatomical drawings shows blood capillaries running along its centerline as a hairy arborescence.

Actual human brains do not present such refined structure; however, these vascular patterns can be observed on those of cows. Drawing on his experience of previous dissections, da Vinci might have seen things which were not there.[1] 
   [1] Martin Clay and Ron Philo, Leonard de Vinci Anatomiste, published by Actes Sud, Arles, 2018



June 8, 2020
“I am my own reference framework”, the newborn protested. 


(tracing after ‘Corpo do homem e do recem-nascido comparados pelo canone de Fritsch’, date unknown, author unkown)

June 2, 2020
Although our bodily dimensions are subject to change, it feels sound to me that we used to measure our surroundings with our own body parts: thumbs, feet, cubits, or steps.

Yet, this physical logic applied less directly to the units of volume than to those of length.

Instead of measuring with amphorae (Roman cubic foot), or any sort of bodily-proportioned vessels, we could have used our own bodies as vessels, and measure with mouthfuls and breaths



May 31, 2020


Up: Andrew Loomis, ‘The basic shape is a flattened ball’, plate 1 in Drawing the Head and Hands, published by Chapman & Hall, London, 1956 

Down: study for an Andrew Loomis helmet



May 30, 2020
While her pupils were drawing my portrait, she deemed useful to show them what my underlying structure looked like.
One of her cabinets contained a skull dedicated to this purpose.

— It is very well made, a pupil exclaimed, as she presented the skull close to my head. Or is it actually real?
— No, it is a cast, the teacher reacted; human remains cannot be traded off this way.

The pupil approached a bit closer, drawn by the naturalness of the object. Other classmates followed.
The skull was starting to awaken such curiosity that it gradually eclipsed my face.

— If you look at it carefully, the teacher continued, you will notice small latches on each temple.
— Can it open, really?

As a response, she unlocked the latches, revealing the intricate lining of the cranium.
I, too, witnessed this wonder: on the corner of my field of view, I could glimpse an inner world which was almost mine.



May 25, 2020
I felt at home there
but could not speak of it
as if I had swallowed
my mother tongue.



April 29, 2020
As they turned their easels around,
none of the foursquare images 
bore a striking likeness to me.

Still, I could recognize myself
in the tree I had long observed
(its lightness standing from the gloom
— sharp — through the frame of the window).



April 25, 2020

Là, le modèle évalue la position de son corps à partir de son champ de vision: lorsqu’il vacille, il réalise son erreur par le trésaillement de son monde visuel.

Il connait la pression qu’il doit exercer sur son index afin que l’architecture de son corps reste stable, que le mirador reste à sa place, que ses yeux soient fixés à ce point précis du monde.

C’est la permanence du paysage au sommet de belvédère qui garantit la stabilité de l’édifice. 
There, the model evaluates the position of his body from his field of vision: when he falters, he realizes his error by the shattering of his visual world.

He knows the pressure he must exert on his index so that the architecture of his body remains stable, that the watchtower stays in its place, that his eyes remain fixed at this precise point of the world.

It is the permanence of the landscape at the top of the belvedere that guarantees the stability of the building.

‘La permamence du paysage’, performance without public, 2020 



March 30, 2020 
Atmospheric perspective from the model's viewpoint, sketch after JJ Gibson Atmospheric perspective from the model's viewpoint, schema after JJ Gibson



March 23, 2020
Above: Korte stand met gelijke waarden, performance without public, 2020

Below: Thetis and Peleus
, detail from a kylix, ca. 490 BC




Februari 24, 2020
It was a stormy day, and I have spent it standing still, the eyes fixed on a waving tree. There and then, permanence had lost all naturalness.



February 15, 2020
Authentic torso from Jan Wolkers’ ‘Kort Amerikaans’, as displayed at Ars, February 2020



February 8, 2020
He told me that salamanders could sit very still too, and that a recent study even reported the case of a specimen remaining motionless for seven whole years.

'Strange,' he added, 'given salamanders are evolved animals, gifted with a brain. What can a salamander think about for all those years, provided it thinks?'

'Strange,' I thought, 'our assumption that intelligence should be translated into motion, and that evolution is a headlong rush out of the inanimate realms.'



February 7, 2020
Same as Muybridge’s studies of motion, there exist, on a more discreet note, studies of motionlessness.

Up: Detail from an anatomy book, handscanned at Ars Aemula Naturae (Leiden), in January 2020

Down: Picture from Brodie, Edmund D., et al. “Immobility as a Defensive Behavior in Salamanders.” Herpetologica, vol. 30, no. 1, 1974, pp. 79–85. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3891417. Accessed 7 Feb. 2020.




February 5, 2020 
The artist talked about fakirs, ecstasy and saints.

These comparisons were meant to express his model's motionlessness; but meanwhile, each term expelled her further in the geographical and historical distance.

'No,’ the model protested in herself, 'we keep inhabiting the same room, even now that we are experiencing different sensory worlds.’



February 4, 2020
‘The Virgin, Patroness Saint of the Models, posing for Saint Luke’, handwritten caption on old postcard, 2020



February 3, 2020
Studio situation with bodily-proportioned kite



February 2, 2020
- When I make a portrait of you, she told me, I do not simply reproduce your features; I also try to portray the inner world that is proper to you.
- And what is my inner world like?
- It is very still, very dreamy.

I had just spent three hours sitting on a chair, in order for her to finish this portrait. If any vivacity used to inhabit the sitter's inner world, the duration of the pose had swept it all away. It appeared to me that the inwardness she had observed was not mine, but that of the time we had both lived through. 



Februari 1, 2020
After the pose was set, I gazed at a wall of faux marble, leaning forward, in such a way that all the weight of my upper body was supported by my hand, which was resting at the edge of a prop.

I cannot remember the duration of this pose; it was surely long enough to lose sense of time.

When I came back to myself, I noticed the changed colors of my hand, and what I observed could not be distinguished from the marbled spectacle I had immersed myself in.

(marbleizing)



January 21, 2020
The model sweats, she sweats profusely, and her smell starts mixing with the other fragrant materials of the life class: vegetal oils, turpentine spirits, animal glues.

Like theirs, her scent is not impure, but heavily present.



January 15, 2020
By 'ecstatic viewpoint', I do not only mean 'the vision of the mystics', but also that of the snails and their erectile eyes.



January 11, 2020
Today, the occupants of the drawing room were middle-aged women aiming at making their first portrait. After hours of labour, one of them stated:
'In the end, drawing proves as difficult as giving birth.'
The humming that followed expressed disapproval.
'Perhaps more difficult, even,’ she reasserted, in a deeper voice.



January 10, 2020
Following the academic tradition, one should not use the tip of the fingers to blend the hatched shadows of the drawing. Skin, even when dry and clean, naturally produces sebum, which will oil the parts that are rubbed, making them more difficult to erase at a later stage.

In other terms, the artist's body should be used as a proper tool, not as a binding agent for graphite. What is valued is a reasoned control over the image, not a dirty intimacy with it.



January 8, 2020

January 7, 2020


January 1, 2020
'Ars Aemula Naturae' ('Art is the rival of Nature') is an art academy in Leiden. It should not be confused with 'Natura Artis Magistra' (’Nature is the teacher of the Arts'), which is the name of the Amsterdam zoo.

I work as an art model in the first one, where a special emphasis is still placed on the practice of drawing after nature. Being in the position of 'nature', I assume that what I face is 'art'. There is no rivalry involved; however, I sometimes envy the position of the buffalo, the ostrich or the zebra, who are all thought to be able to teach.



December 31, 2019
The Wedding of Thetis and Peleus, ca. 490 BC Thetis and Peleus, detail from a kylix, ca. 490 BC

She feared to be known, and thus kept changing form.
Basics of self-defense. 



December 30, 2019



December 26, 2019
What a head contained was of little importance to the first anatomists. The earliest mention of the brain is found in an Egyptian medical papyrus, and this hieroglyph can be translated as 'skull offal'.[1] 

[1]  Susan Standring,‘A brief history of topographical anatomy’ in: Journal of Anatomy (2016) 229, p.32



October 23, 2019
In France, the weight of human beings is given by a device bearing a sophisticated name (pèse-personne), a name distinct from the instrument aimed at weighing any other thing (balance). The subject eludes his trivial heaviness by claiming a proper scale.



September 21, 2019
The blue discharge

For the prepubescent girl I was, sanitary napkins advertisements exerted a magical fascination. I had hardly encountered such refined imagery before (perhaps with the exception of the paintings of the Virgin Mary in her ultramarine mantle).
On the screen, shades of blue and white intertwined just as delicately. The fine structure of the napkin was first shown in its immaculate state, and then absorbing a deep-blue flow generously poured over its center. The napkin soaked it all up, while its whiteness barely altered: the beautiful blue left no stain, rather a glaze of pale turquoise over the whole surface.
For this reason, I believed this blue to be the actual menstrual color. In vain, I have longed for the day I would discover a lapis-lazuli stain on my linen.


August 20, 2019
She asked me what I wanted to become.
She said nowadays girls could become anything.
'May I also become a stone?' I asked.
(Back then, the Anthropocene was not a topic yet.)



Self-portrait with coprolithe, 2018



July 3, 2019
Dans The Practice and Science of Drawing, Harold Speed explique la médiocrité du dessinateur débutant par une indifférence spontanée pour les stimuli visuels, en comparaison aux stimuli tactiles.

L’enfant qui cherche à se nourrir se dirige à tâtons vers le corps maternel: le sens du toucher lui est le plus utile. Cette perception tactile et utilitariste du monde l’empêchera par la suite de voir les objets tels qu’ils sont, et de transmettre cette vision.

Ainsi, devant un paysage, l’homme se révèle plus attentif à l’étendue de la surface cultivable, à la boue qui empèse chacun de ses pas ou aux orties qui brûlent ses mollets qu’à l’image en train de s’inscrire sur sa rétine.

Je proposerai ici une hypothèse supplémentaire : si le monde pouvait blesser l’homme par les yeux aussi vivement qu’il sait le faire par la peau, son dessin s’en retrouverait amélioré, le sens visuel occupant alors chez lui une importance plus profonde.