Between 2016 and 2018, I photographed in La Puente, the biggest brothel in southern Ecuador, where more than 150 women work. The photos were created in collaboration with the women, who chose their own poses and many painted with nail polish on their polaroids to hide their identities; the nail polish developed later to a creative tool, beautifying or abstracting bodies or the place itself. Not only their chosen poses, but also the use of nail polish tell about the women’s inner and outer perceptions.
The work, which recently was published as my first photobook, gives a new perspective in a somewhat clichéd subject matter and creates a space for a nuanced and relatable depth to individuals, thus challenge stereotyping and common portrayals of sex workers by allowing them to create their own narratives. In addition to the polaroids of the women and their video documentation, the work and exhibition also contains bedsheets that were given to me upon leaving La Puente, which are the only personal items in their rooms. The bedsheets are shown in their original sizes on the wall and become an important testimony to be shared with the viewers.
The books are purchasable via my publisher FotoEvidence for 35$, or drop me an email
An interview with The British Journal of Photography about my work & book: https://www.bjp-online.com/2019/12/charlotte-schmitz/