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My first photo of a young woman in a box dates from 2004, although most of the photos in this book were taken between 2009 and the present. Obviously I am not the first photographer to have come up with the idea of posing nudes in such receptacles, and I know I am not the last. Yet I continue to be fascinated by the interplay between the unyielding symmetry of medium-density fibreboard and the ever-flexible curves, muscles, hair and bone structures of a young woman's body. I do not consider the owners of these bodies to be 'models', as that word suggests a passive, subordinate relationship to the photographer, which does not reflect my studio reality at all. These women are artist-performers in their own right, gymnasts and dancers in deed, if not in name. They are 'collaborators' who contribute at least as much as I do to the photos contained in this book.
How we work together depends on the person. Some start slowly from a series of basic poses, which are then polished and elaborated on to achieve the desired effects. Improvisation is always encouraged and music is usually present in the background. Trained dancers or acrobats can largely be left to their own devices; they know about 'finishing' their poses, and rather than switching from position to position, they may move in one long sequence. In such cases, my job is literally to steal tiny moments from the endless stream of body configurations on offer.
While this somewhat stochastic way of taking photos can produce good results, I admit to being easily seduced by the flow; what seems beautiful in real time may be quite ordinary or unpolished when extracted from its context. Accordingly, videography beckons.
I am rather mystified by my collaborators' enthusiasm for the Box. Working in it is very demanding physically. A very few people don't warm to the idea at all, but the majority do, and of these, one or two will have to be told that they have done quite enough exercise for one afternoon. I imagine the appeal lies in the challenge of something akin to the remembered thrill of the playground climbing-frame. As I myself have absolutely no aptitude for having my head lower than my feet, I can only be grateful for these women's grace, fortitude and endless creativity.