Nora Smith

Reportage, 2015


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This project reflects on certain self-evident aspects of prostitution. It is not meant as a critique on the spirit of the profession itself: it evolved naturally and can’t be explained as being obvious. The images in the project do not share any prejudice. They should be interpreted as the naive observations of an universe, and not show any judgment towards persons depicted in the photographs. It is also not about charming the spectator, even though he’s/she’s in front of elements carrying this mission. Neither to disgust him/her, as taboos can often be susceptible to end on sterile correlations.

This work represents only a small part of prostitution as it legally exists in Lausanne, Switzerland. It portrays a very personal view, influenced by the talks and experiences with the models in the photos. I discovered that the major reasons that pushes woman to prostitution were very critical social situation, as much as financially than psychologicaly (for example the trauma after being raped). It's about vengeance, lure of profit, waiting, and not belonging to a particular place.

Visually the series seems to vacillate between details and overviews, referencing the cramped rooms. Colors are changing, based on different tastes of the occupant. Within these cramped spaces decorative elements are used to propose and suggest a familiarity for visitors. This varies from simple pictures on the wall to a huge bouquet of flowers. Everything is put in place to contrast with the immaculate bed always meticulously done.
Women photographed have not been influenced in their poses ; it was about letting them sharing their beauty in their own way.




Prostitution is a work of waiting Waiting for the client, for money, for a new situation. Prostitutes are victims of boredom, impatience, bound to a undefined schedule where breaks are ordeals. No eating, because we mustn’t get fat, no sleeping not knowing how many minutes are available and especially no showing of nervosity.

The brothel is a space like a lot of others ; we perceive tensions, rivalries, the envy to look strong, to please. All affinities are ephemeral. The client like changes, he needs fresh flesh, and the woman will have to cede her place to another, blonder, darker, more western or more latino.

Neither the place nor the time belongs to them. They are traped in unpersonal houses where territorial notions disappear. Sheets are done, towels are folded in a particular way depending on those places, rooms are often perfumed, hallways are cramped. The light is red and screened, blinds are closed. Impossible to determine what time it is, no ray of sunshine or a small blue square of sky to be seen. Some curtains, bouquet of flowers here and there, but especially an imposing calm. A respectful silence? A discomfort, a decency that holds the words at the door? A certain way to get rid of her thoughts : by not talking, she maybe stops thinking, as she considers most probably better this way.

The man is the master : master because he decides everything once he’s got inside. Money does the rest. He’s also the only mark in a prostitute day. She will remember his venue, counting on her fingers how many came. Her life is based on those men's visits, they are what allow her to subsist and maybe think of holidays. She’s at their mercy. They don’t book a meeting like for a doctor. As long she is between those walls, she can’t stop thinking of the next client and the undefined moment of his arrival.

We don’t decide to become a prostitute ourselves like we would decide to become florist or a teacher. Rare are the women who do this work by pure pleasure.

We try to find a reason, a way to justify ourselves. Money or solidarity, because statically we prevent rapes. We need to pay for our studies, the future of our child, the apartment with an ever increasing price, something to eat, and if the last salary isn’t enough, we do prostitution. Financial difficulties are one of the prime reasons which leads women and men to prostitution. Next come the trauma of rape, allowing a total detachment of our body, a rejection of love, a strong hate towards men, a desire of vengeance. The more he pays, the better she feels. Not even 1% of men have any dignity: she sneers inside while she deliciously occupies married men who discreetly see her during scholar breaks.

Crisis? The sex workers don’t know it. The consumer would rather pay for a prostitute than for a car. We consume sex as any other product, without taking our time, it has to be intense and short. The street rubs off into the brothel: the myth of the prostitute known by the neighbourhood to whom people would come sometimes to shed a tear for one hour in her arms have disappeared. They are consumables jus like any other object on the market; we need to renew the stocks, not stay on one article and ignore what will happen next to it. Most of all we must not feel sentiments.

With the beginning of humanity, this dehumanising started. How can we accept work which is the result of mankind’s cruelty with its bad management of a system? Why do we have women and men who realise phantasms generated by porn movies, in which respect is progressively eroded? The body is the only object that will accompany a person during the whole life: then how hard is the separation between the body and the spirit when we have to carry the weight of abuse, the ignominy of the client that we wouldn’t even have welcomed in our house?


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