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Des Corps Dans la Ville
Prostitution is legal in France, but soliciting customers is not. The immediate consequence of newly passed laws against passive soliciting has changed the sex trade. Large concentrations of utility vehicles serving as accommodation crowd the nightly streets of the city suburbs. The shaking and bouncing vans leave little doubt as to the activities going on inside.
In Lyon, prostitutes from Brazil, Portugal, and Cameroon, as well as transvestites from Algeria, have largely been ousted from their usual haunts in the Perrache station neighborhood. Candles on the dashboards of surreal rows of white vans dimly illuminate the women’s faces. An open door means available, a closed door means busy.
The Rhone and Saone rivers outline the area for sex trade. Police controls, waiting for clients, drugs and alcohol, all evaporate by the quickly arriving dawn. The mix of people you meet is far from any stereotype. Fear and loneliness are felt but so is the intimacy of a well-tuned microcosm. Fernanda for example, a Portuguese prostitute in her sixties, not only receives old clients but also stitches their worn clothing on occasion.
Cassandra and Sylvie, two Algerian brothers, unfolded a whole new view on this subject for me.
Upon their yearly return to Algeria, their skirts, high heels and wigs are abandoned, and they slip into the role of heterosexual Algerian men, living with their families. Algerian law prohibits homosexuality or transsexual conduct, which is severely punished by imprisonment, not to mention the social stigma.
Conseil Régional Rhône-Alpes has commissioned the project and a series of images was exhibited at the Biennal Septembre de la photographie, Lyon, 2006 - Des corps dans la ville.
A selection of images will be part of Le Mois de la Photo in November 2010, Paris, France.
Born 1972 in Italy, Elena Perlino currently lives in northern Italy.
After receiving her degree from the faculty of arts at the university of Turin, she discovered serious photography at Toscana Photographic Workshop in Italy. In 2003 she was selected for the Reflexions Masterclass, directed by Giorgia Fiorio and Gabriel Bauret in Paris, which gave focus to her work.
Today she works as an independent photographer on assignment for editorial projects and cultural institutions and develops personal works.
Her clients include D di Repubblica, Io Donna, GQ, Max, Specchio, Elle, Grazia, Glamour, Anna, Rockstar, and Tauchsport among others. Her pictures have been exhibited and awarded in Bosnia, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the USA.