Go of the night – Forgotten beauties
A photos exhibition
Maison des métallos, Ville de Paris
15 novembre au 15 décembre 2011
Espace Cosmopolis, Ville de Nantes
10 janvier au 13 février 2013
« Young women sell their bodies in the town of Abidjan, where punters know they’ll find fraîchenies, [young flesh], girls of 12-24.
Arriving in mass from the north after the war of 2002, these go [girls] sell their bodies for survival. Forgotten by development aid policies, they live in the blind spot of the world.
Éliane de Latour has captured these young women through both spontaneous and posed shots of their lives, within their environment. But her work is mainly focused on the posed portraits, searching for the girls’ subjectivity in these broken places. Taking the spectator on a carefully staged journey, the exhibition reveals an adolescence that has no safety net, one that has been destroyed. By exposing these forgotten beauties, she is signing a bold statement of her anthropological commitment, and contributing to an emerging international awareness about the fate of adolescents. »
Maison des métallos news letter, Novembre 2011
An exhibition and a book
HIGHLIGHT THE CLANDESTINES
Go de nuit, Abidjan les belles oubliées
Go de nuit, Abidjan les jeunes invisibles
Texts and photos by Eliane de Latour. She maps out her journey through the private world of the go, tries to understand them as from the inside.
When taking photos I never look for “the pretty moment”, I use my camera only when it helps me to construct meaning, and this takes time. The book gives a new sense of “temporality to time”. It surrounds the emotion with words that snap us out of and beyond a state of shock, to bring us closer to that which seems so far removed, so “atrocious”. Understanding is looking at the unimaginable and making it our concern.
The “rubbish dump” of our unjust world pushes what it doesn’t need to the peripheries. It is through contemplation that we must bring this back to centre stage, in order to touch people’s consciences. Through writing, photography, cinema, theatre….Close
Bel Air ghetto
A GHETTO OF FRESHENIES (fresh young girls to sale)
Short-stay hotels surround the ghetto where girls gather to find punters.Next…
Supplied by the hotel 0.8€ – room 30 mn and rubber with 2 m of toilet paper
Supplied by the go
3 € – Blow job
1.50 € – Quick sex
A night – 7 to 15 € depending on the client
For unprotected sex the rates are a little higher.
Professionals charge 15-30€
« You begin to deteriorate. You become ugly. You whither.
You sleep like a crocodile: you close one eye, you open one eye.
You are afraid so you have no time to rest.
Here we often stay awake at night.
Your body, even your personality changes, you get thin,
you keep getting ill.
All that’s happening on the inside. You think too much. » Mélissa
An unexpected start
After sometimes hanging out and taking snap shots, it started really with a photographer’s hesitation upon glimpsing Nafissa’s face. She smiled at me, I pressed the shutter release. She changed her pose, I followed silently.Next…
Through her attitude and poses. Nafissa guided me to the portrait, of which I took her a print on the following day. The euphoric reactions of the other girls encouraged me to continue this path with them, now they all wanted a turn in front of the camera lens. I understood that these images changed the way they saw themselves, thanks to the camera lens of a society that portrays them as soiled and despicable. They posed with confidence and pride. They are something other than their social image and want everyone to know this. By accepting to come out of hiding, the go of Abidjan are representing all girls in their position across the world’s five continents, and offering themselves up to global conscience.
Three years after, a book and a photography exhibition bring to light a global phenomena, that of the girls who flee socially disadvantaged areas or war zones in order to sell their bodies in the heart of the big cities.Close
TRY TO HUMANISE THROUGH AN IMAGE
Convinced they are the dregs of humanity, the go suddenly find themselves beautiful. Photography has been a passport to these places on the outskirts of life and to bringing these girls out from underground.Next…
During the day I captured moments of subjectivity, where beauty merged with an almost imperceptible, shadowy light, the hint of a childhood spent on the wrong side of the tracks.
Night time, in between touting. The endless wait. The loneliness. The fear of going home empty handed. The dread of coming across a madman.
I’m not interested in “pretty pictures”
The spark of beauty that inspires me to photograph a go comes from her daring to want to show that she is something else. A photograph as a reflection of self-esteem.Close
Supported by a totally spot on exhibition layout, [Eliane de Latour’s] photographs say far more than many press articles about female misery, war in Africa, and the human condition itself.
Mariane – Frédérique Briard
When we take the time to look at them and listen to them, these women recover a striking dignity.
Libération – Gilles Renault
We leave this sober journey completely shaken.
Télérama – Frédérique Chapuis
We are moved. Thanks to the exhibition design by Mélanie Cheula and sound production by Eric Thomas, it is as if we are inside the short-stay hotels of these […] female adolescents who, having to deal with their pimps, violence and drugs, live “in the world’s blind spot”.
L’Humanité – M.J.
Free from sordid realism, her images establish a pertinent and urgent relationship with Africa. Through rigorous research, these posed portraits avoid clichés.
This exhibit is dedicated to Ramatou and Djeneba, who died on the night of 29 September 2010 and to all these very young women who no longer know how to deal with life.
Ami and Kanté tell me that they left Petit Bassam the night before in a dugout canoe with three other girls, including Djénéba and Ramatou who I know because I photographed them a year ago. As almost always, fishermen came to take them to the big cargo ship anchored offshore where French, Russian and Greek sailors were waiting for them. But that night, near a “bois sacré” on an isolated piece of land, they said, the fishermen, good swimmers, turned over the boat. The five girls were thrown into the rough water. None of them knew how to swim.Next…
Kanté, Ramatou’s best friend, and Ami held onto a rope attached to the boat. Kanté saw Ami begin to go under and grabbed her head, but Ami sobbed: “Let me go… I can’t go on, ask my son to forgive me, it’s not my fault…” Kanté tries to hold her up when suddenly, they are thrown onto a beach by the ocean waves. Before them, only emptiness: no cargo on the horizon, none of the girls, all three of whom have been spirited away by the go-betweens.
Two days later, Djeneba’s body washed up on the beach. Her head, breasts and vagina were missing. Someone had been commissioned to find victims for a sacrifice, which is a frequent phenomenon around election time, and most of the the victims are children, albinos and pregnant girls. And also the girls that “don’t matter”, they die as “unrecognised citizens” without any police enquiry.Close