After the serie Golden West, which I had just completed during my stay in Reno, USA, my galleriest in Barcelona, Carles Taché, suggested me to do a similar work in Barcelona. To do so, I tried to know some places of porn shows in the city. During 2012 I traveled to Barcelona and discovered that there was a circuit of porn shows, burlesque from Barcelona to Berlin. Most of the dancers came from Eastern Europe. I accompanied some of the protagonists to several of their shows.
You are here for them, for their promises. While they prepare themselves, you also take on a role. And you know it’s okay: you’ve come for their exhibitionism, but they’re here for your voyeurism.
The performative quality of ritual
The repetition of a structured, orderly process has the capacity to create awareness of identity, belonging and being. Humanity has been doing it for as long as it has existed: to invoke, to summon, to conjure, to create a greater consciousness or to enter ecstasy. We place our faith in ritual, we endow it with rules and times, and it works the change. This is how they move towards the other them that will take the stage. Although the spectator does not know it, the Chicca he is watching is the same woman who took her child and left Japan after the last earthquake; and Maya is the same Colombian girl who chews coca leaves at noon to stay thin. When they and Victor and Beau and Marja and Luna accede to their place within the show, no identity is more real than any other; when the ritual ends there is no imposture, no lie. And it could not be otherwise: «ceremony» is composed of a toponym, Caere, and munus, «public spectacle.» But transfiguration hides nothing: it only shows what is also there, what is always there.
It is so fascinating that men have been writing for centuries about privacy, about the mystery of what happens «on the other side». Because they know that opening that door is a profanation: the ritual also gives solemnity to the place where it takes place.
When you are an outsider to the ceremony, at first you only see the change in the forms, but when it is over and you wonder if it is just the costumes, you just have to look into the eyes of one of them to see that their essence is also different.
Photography does its impossible
And only I am missing, I occupy a different place, inside the sanctuary but outside the rite. My access door is the shutter. The time of exposure to reality. The portrait of a transit. I know that some feel uncomfortable, and I try to be invisible, but I am not: others seem to look for me. Each one has decided the rules of her own ceremony. And I try to follow them. And that is the instant in which photography makes its impossible. Space and time interweave to form movement. And in photography, time disappears, but movement is still present. Frozen. Still. But present. That we can see it, the very fact that there is still movement even after it has stopped is as unraveling a mystery as their gazes just before they go on stage.