Sep 07, 09
Read in September, 2009
Kathleen Rooney's Live Nude Girl uses the loose structure of a memoir of her days as an artists' model to explore large issues that wouldn't be immediately apparent to the non-modeling population. The six chapters of the book are actually six essays on various aspects of the nude (and sometimes non-nude) modeling experience. The topics of the first two essays are not unexpected. They are a meditation of 'Nude' vs. 'Naked' and an analysis of the types of relationships possible between the model and the artist.
The next essay is more surprising, a sort of ''Intimations of Immortality', and deals with the model regarding the works created on her. This is a superb, profound meditation.
Following an analysis of the differences between being the object of photography as opposed to the object of drawing or sculpture, comes what I felt to be the most heartfelt section of the book. In a chapter whose title, What it feels like for a girl, reflects Rooney's playful wit and clever use of double-entendre, depicts the differences between posing for women as opposed to posing for men .
A final chapter on what happens when the art object diverges from what the model herself perceives as her own self image rounds out the collection. It is an interesting analysis of the control the artist has over the image, even when the image is inspired by a separate, living human being.
References to thinkers and artists as far ranging as Lacan, Plato, Radiohead and Peewee Herman reveal a writer with a firm command of the whole scope of culture, both high and low. This scope makes her own observations the more compelling and secure.