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According to the Paris Police Department, the number of prostitutes working in the area of the Bois de Boulogne park has "increased significantly" in the past five years. I've always been interested in informal architectures and people who manage to build something out of nothing.
My work often examines the way in which marginalised populations cope with their often hostile environments. So far, I've had the opportunity to work in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro and follow the displaced populations in the Sichuan area after the construction of the Three Gorges dam in the Chinese town of Chongqing.
It was in the same vein that, three years ago, I began to look into the working conditions of the prostitutes in the Bois de Boulogne for a project I called Places of Pleasure. The Bois de Boulogne is a park with a reputation — every Parisian knows it as a place with a history of sex work. Every morning, throngs of women arrive in the Bois de Boulogne — some by bus, others driving their own cars. Their day begins with the installation of their workspace: Some unfold a tent in the forest or behind bushes, while others open their trunk, bend the seats, cover the windows and light some incense.
Once they are set up, they move on to preparing themselves — they will carefully apply their make-up and change into a sexier outfit or just get undressed. The whole process takes on an almost ritualistic quality; it seems to allow those women some time to transcend the boundaries of their "daily" life and assume their role of the prostitute.
Around midday, an acquaintance delivers them meals and drinks. But the women rarely have lunch; their job apparently destroys their appetite. Many will often work on an empty stomach, though a bottle of alcohol can often be seen protruding from their bags. Around , they start packing up as that's when the night shift takes over. In the time I spent there, I made sure to cover a specific area hoping that that would allow me to get better acquainted with the space and its inhabitants.