by Dana Popa
The customers of sex trafficked girls are ordinary, everyday men living ordinary everyday lives, I presume, and time-by-time, they abuse girls that could be their daughters.
I don´t know of these men are ever ashamed of what they are doing to women that don´t cost them anything but some cheap money, but its obvious, that their victims are marked deeply for their rest of their lives, ashamed the rest of their lives for what has been done to them.
It’s a strange thing, this emotion called shame. Shame is reflecting the values of a society. Being a prostitute seems to be a shame, to frequent a prostitute doesn´t minder your status as gentleman.
It´s thus a relationship under the signature of power, because those who have the power, and those who have the money, never seem to be ashamed of anything. It´s a relationship under the auspices of success, and however the prostitutes are relating to their profession, in the eyes of society they already have lost.
But the protagonists of Dana Popa are no prostitutes. They are slaves sold and bought and used in all kinds of ways. Their bodies and souls are being destroyed; no hope, no future just destruction and shame.
Prostitution and sex trafficking could be a juicy topic. But nothing about Dana Popa project is juicy. No naked bodies, no sparsely clothed young woman, no pricks, no cunts, no tits. She could have sold these young women a second time, but she didn´t. This should be self-evident, but it isn´t.
Dana Popa makes her protagonists speak for themselves, and she lets them hide behind blankets and wigs and by absence. Though photography is inherently voyeuristic, Dona Popas photographs don´t feed voyeurism at all. They are simply not voyeuristic.
She doesn´t use the photojournalistic language that I am so tired of. The form she has found in her images is not new, but I like her work for it´s delicacy, its quietness and, because she photographs her protagonist in way that creates understanding and empathy. This is a quality hard to find in the world of photography.