Street Voice Introduction: Sometimes I come across bands, models and photographers I want to feature in Street Voice. Rebecca Tun is one of those people! After reading what Rebecca is all about I knew she’d feature well in the Street Voice pages. A stunning model and an equally brilliant photographer. A few questions were sent off to Rebecca and this is what she had to say for herself!
Street Voice: First off Rebecca can you tell our readers a little about yourself please?
I’m a model, photographer, all-round travelling arty freak, geek and ex-philosopher.
Street Voice: How come you decided that being a nude model was going to be the right path for you?
I fell into it after modeling for some art classes while I was a student. The nudity went without saying because it would have been odd not to use my whole body for modeling. And while I didn’t go into nude modeling with political motives (I didn’t come from a context where having no clothes on was a big deal), I’ve since learned that not everyone in the world has or feels the same freedom that I do; so I’ve gone from being neutral about it to feeling proud about sharing my nudity.
Street Voice: At what age did you decide you wanted to model?
Street Voice: Some may argue that posing nude demeans the female sex so any opinions on this?
Yes, I think it is often demeaning, and to women more often than men.
For example, when it’s clear from the image or its context that the person involved isn’t 100% happy with what they’re doing, e.g. perhaps they’re in it for the money and might regret it later, it puts the person in a bad light. It’s most often the case when the portrayal is ugly, unflattering, lacking in artistic merit or doesn’t dignify the subject – but there are counterexamples to this rule, because sometimes it’s clear from a picture/video that the performer is getting a real kick out of what they’re doing, in which case it’s hard to see the work as demeaning. Except, and this leads me onto the more general point which you were getting at in your question, if the viewer has a negative attitude towards nudity per se, then they’ll find all kinds of nude imagery demeaning to the female sex, which is sad. And since you mention the female sex in particular, it’s true that when it comes to people with negative attitudes about nudity, it’s nearly always directed solely at women (by both women and men).
I’ve tried to understand this attitude and it’s definitely complex and deeply rooted. I would offer that one aspect of it (and I’ve found this out even from conversations with men and women who would consider themselves liberal) has something to do with an unconscious line of reasoning a bit like this: that women revealing their bodies is a sexual act; that female sexual activity consist of giving something away as if it were a finite commodity (it can after all be bought); therefore when a woman reveals her body she’s giving something away, somehow decreasing the value of her assets.
This second premise – female sex acts as a commodity – isn’t unreasonable in its origins: during the evolution of sexually-reproducing life on earth and almost all of human history there’s been no contraception, so while men could spill their seed willy-nilly (pun intended), women could get pregnant, which incurs a cost etc etc. But now in principle women can be as free about sexual acts as men have always been. There are people and institutions that are slow to cotton onto or accept this fact. But I like to think I’m doing my bit to change this in my own small way.
And then as for the first premise – that revealing the body is a sexual act – well, firstly there’s again a male-female asymmetry here, as well as an old-young asymmetry. It’s only the young and female naked body that’s considered by the majority to be inseparable from sexual significance, which is understandable. And when almost everything we do which shows the bodies of the young and female is designed primarily to be visually pleasing above all else, it’s hardly surprising that its sexual significance is considered intrinsic to it because the aesthetic appeal of the human body is pretty much designed by sexual attraction. BUT there are interesting cases where female nudity can have a different purpose – for example, to protest for women’s rights, (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/12/topless-femen-protesters-jailed-tunisia_n_3429495.html), or “to change that standard of beauty from one that’s exclusive and based on illusion, to one that includes actual women and is rooted deeply in reality” (http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/06/29/jade-beall-post-baby-body), just to give two examples that have captured my imagination recently.
These things have made me realize that I’m definitely a culprit in perpetuating the fixation that connects nakedness to sex appeal and sex appeal to perfection. But as the ravages of time make my body less perfect and more expressive, perhaps this will change. I admired Isabella Rossellini’s nude scene in Blue Velvet where she bravely portrays a troubled woman and, to put it bluntly, has clearly asymmetrical breasts (http://mcbeardo.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/5isabellarossellinibluevelvet-7-cma.jpg). All pairs of breasts are asymmetrical, some more than others, but how often do we see this portrayed so unreservedly and honestly? The prevailing trend in the visual arts is to reinforce the association between being the heroine of a love story and having an ideal body. As a model and a photographer I’m in a position to act against this trend, so I hope that I’ll be brave enough to do so.
Street Voice: You have a real cool look so I presume you’re one busy lady when it comes to modelling?
Street Voice: What are your limits regards having photo’s taken of yourself?
Anything I’d feel comfortable doing in front of a stranger.
(c) Peter LJ | May 2013 | Stockholm, Sweden
Street Voice: What has been your favourite shoot to date?
Well I recently did a shoot in Wales which basically involved driving around the countryside for two days in an old truck, stopping every now and then to run up hills, climb trees, slide down waterfalls and squelch around in lovely mud. That’s my idea of a fun day out, so if I can earn my keep and make cool art by doing that, I’m definitely not complaining.
Street Voice: You are also a photographer yourself so how did you get into that?
I’ve taken portraits of my sisters since I was young. Becoming a model gave me the knowledge, contacts and inspiration to take it further.
Street Voice: Have you a favourite camera / lens you like to shoot with?
I recently upgraded to the Canon 5DmkII which I’ve coveted for a while. It’s good but I miss the 50mm lens from my previous camera, so I’ll need to get myself a fixed lens for my new camera too. Also being so arty farty I predictably love the Lensbaby, and when it occurred to me that I now have a camera which can take movies and that I could film with the Lensbaby on, it filled me with indescribable glee and I made an awesome movie (still in the cutting room). I love anything that can give a chaotically distorted interpretation of reality, so my crappy iPhone camera is also a favourite toy of mine; suddenly having a video camera in my pocket at all times has revolutionized my creative life. All these technological improvements have made me unsustainably busy but very happy.
Street Voice: Any plans for the rest of 2013 in regards modelling and photography?
Video. Both in modeling and in photography, I’m moving into moving pictures. Music videos and short films. There are a few new projects in the pipeline so watch this space!
Street Voice: When you’re not modelling or taking photos what do you get up to wind down?
Sleep, mostly. I’m a very greedy sleeper.
Street Voice: Anything you’d like to add?
Apologies for the essay earlier. I guess it turned out I did have some opinions!
Thanks to Rebecca for doing a very cool interview. No need to apologise for the essay. A very interesting answer to the question I asked. Please do check out Rebecca’s work. I’m sure you’ll be very impressed!