The subject seemed to be difficult for an American of just twenty-five years of arrival in France as an au pair. She is naive and has no experience photo. During the visit of an exhibition of Diane Arbus, Jane Evelyn Atwood is fascinated by the subjects that the artist’s new york photography. “They had something strange” she explains. “It is this that has created a click, it stopped me. I said to myself I would like to find people like that in Paris.” By a chance meeting, a lady puts her in contact with a prostitute, Blonde. A long-standing friendship starts with this blonde with short hair that you can see on his photos and that will mark his entire life.
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His training in the profession of photographer is going to be on the field. Completely self-taught, she started with a small instamatic, with which “I used to bug all my friends and my family taking all the time pictures”, and then she could buy a “real camera”. “Once again, I had no idea to make photos or be a photographer. I mastered my device correctly. I just wanted to meet prostitutes.” Paradoxically, it is the photograph that allowed him to get closer . “The subject has come before my job”.
“Love his subjects without voyeurism”
For a year, Jane Evelyn Atwood has spent all her nights in the street of the Lombards, to photograph these women. Thanks to Blonde, it is accept by them without ever taking photos in soft. It is also Blonde, who introduces him to Barbara, a transsexual. In the district of Pigalle, it discovers the environment transgender.
these two experiences are born of two sets Rue des Lombards, 1976-1977 and Pigalle People 1978-1979 , which have already led to exhibitions: a retrospective in 2010 at the MEP for the first and one in Arles in 2018 in the framework of the Meetings of the Photograph. The exhibition of the Maison Robert Doisneau brings together these two slices of life.
the question, would it be possible to reproduce today such conditions? She responds: “This is not a problem, but today we want everything too quickly, we want scoops, and it doesn’t work like that. It is important to be patient, psychologist, delve into the middle with discretion, love of his subjects without voyeurism. That’s the difference.”
Stories of prostitution, Paris 1976-1979. Maison de la photographie Robert Doisneau. 1, rue de la Division du Général Leclerc. Gentilly (94). Until April 21, 2019. Free entrance from Wednesday to Saturday from 13.30 to 18.30 and Sunday from 13h to 19h. Tel.: 01 55 01 04 86.