Visions & Voices: Black & White Photographs by Diverse Women Working in Various Aspects of the Sex Industry

Curated by: Moshoula Capous-Desyllas
April 30 - June 12, 2011

The subjective experiences and voices of sex workers are seldom heard and their needs are consistently defined and represented by non-sex workers throughout history, in society and within academia. Historical representations have contributed to the stigmatization of sex workers. Visual representations of sex workers by others have perpetuated stereotypical symbols of sexuality. Academic research is consistently being done 'on' sex workers instead of with them, denying them of their agency.

The purpose of this project was to understand the needs and aspirations of female sex workers in Portland, Oregon from their own point of view through art. The research methodology of photovoice was used to bring forward the knowledge and experiences of sex workers' everyday lives through the inclusion of their photographic images and voices. This process entailed giving 35mm cameras to 11 diverse women working in different positions within the sex industry to take black & white photographs of their needs and aspirations.

After each woman took her photographs, individual dialogue sessions were held to reflect and discuss the images. The women were also invited to partake in two group dialogue sessions where they shared their photographs with each other and planned for an opening art exhibit of their visions and voices. The objective was to collaboratively identify important issues for female sex workers and to provide this information in a photographic art exhibit to inform policy makers, influential community advocates and the broader public in order to advocate for social justice.

Brayham Contemporary Art
1318 Queen St East


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