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La Puente

La Puente is the biggest brothel in southern Ecuador in the city of Machala, where 170 women are working. The word Puente means bridge, in Spanish a masculine noun (el puente), adapted to the trade, feminized the word.

The photos were created in collaboration with the women, who chose their own poses and later painted with nail polish on their polaroids. The nail polish was initially used to provide anonymity, but quickly developed into a creative instrument. Not only their chosen poses, but also the use of nail polish tell about the women’s inner and outer perceptions. Working with polaroid and nail polish gave them the possibility to control and personalize their own photos, breaking down the power structures in the artistic production itself, by letting the women enter the sphere of the creative process. The work transforms the women from passive sources into active agents, showing them how they want to be seen, rather than how they are seen by society.

The artist was given original bed sheets by the women, which become part of the work and exhibitions, as they are the only personal items in the rooms of La Puente. Along with the polaroids and bed sheets, videos of the women and music become part of the installations. La Puente won the first W-Award by FotoEvidence.

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