This work is a series of photographs depicting physical performers (circus artists, dancers, contortionists) as 18th century sex workers. The disregard for subtlety in this comparison is an intentional nod to the clear experiential overlap between sex work and the performing arts.
Late nights, battered bodies, intense creative exploration of embodiment, and the performance of gender and sexuality are rewarded with money and power- often not enough of either to necessarily alter one’s position in a social hierarchy. Using one’s body to survive and making it available for others to use, sometimes at the expense of the artist’s well being, marks a further shared experience as well as the conundrum of being treated like a divine entity and an expendable commodity in the exact same moment.
Both of these professions are dangerous. They can be and often are abusive and exploitative. They can and often do offer immense personal satisfaction. They are capable of being sources of great pride, as well as shame. They are often misunderstood. And last but not least, neither of these professions are culturally accepted as "real work". By participating in them, you are Othered.
Rich in symbolism, much like perceiving the artists depicted, viewers who look closely at these images will be rewarded.
Photography by Carly Forrest
Postproduction editing by Hannah Anderson
Performing artists: Andrea St. Amand, Rachel Strickland, Vanessa Sirois, Colleen Hoerle, Laura McNair
Special thanks to Michelle Jader. This work is powered by Patreon. Endless thanks to the generosity of my patrons for making this possible.