National Portrait Gallery

On Friday 20th January 2012, our photography class paid a visit to the National Portrait Gallery in London. We visited the Taylor Wessing Photographic Prize exhibition, a small white space filled with framed photographs alongside small descriptions of each, offering a small insight into their origins.

"Migrations Linked To Prostitution" Paolo Patrizi

I strolled around the gallery in a daze; admittedly I am wasted on exhibitions because I find there all quite dull and pretentious but I did stumble on a few images that struck my interests. I particularly enjoyed the single photograph from “Migrations linked to Prostitution” by Paolo Patrizi (shown above). The word migration stuck out for me after having researched Sebastio Salgado’s “Migration” works for a past assignment and the word prostitution links with my current assignment. There go I was encouraged to look deeper into the photograph. It was matter of fact yet joyfully colourful, an interesting combination giving such a sensitive subject matter. The girl in the image is seen lying hopelessly, helplessly on a mattress amidst beautiful scenery yet trapped in a bitter fate. I especially like images like these, ones that explore the harsh realities of life and sex industries because it’s so alien to me. I find such topics extremely interesting.

I did some further research on “Migrations linked to Prostitution” and found it more compelling as a series as opposed to just viewing one image. The photographs were taken in Italy of young migrants. The women in the photographs remain anonymous, thus enticing more intrigue and enigma. All the photographs are in colour, featuring dirty mattresses and used condoms.

"Migration Linked To Prostitution" Paolo Patrizi

"Migration Linked To Prostitution" Paolo Patrizi

"Migration Linked To Prostitution" Paolo Patrizi

"Migration Linked To Prostitution" Paolo Patrizi

On Patrizi’s website (Paolo Patrizi) he brings the photographs into context. We learn that many of the migrants are from Africa and some of which work in the sex industry in order to send money home to their families. This trade has been going on for over twenty years and younger girls are recruited every year. He paints the women as “headstrong and ambitious” who have made a “clear decision” to work abroad to better their future and to escape poverty. However, because girl prostitution has become such an acceptable trade in Italy, the fight against sex traffickers has become “all the more difficult”.  Overall, I found this series really interesting due to its subject matter. I also loved the way in which the photographer has kept the subjects’ dignity and identity intact creating an enigmatic yet in your face (the used condoms for example) collection.

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