|Jean-Christian Bourcart: Infertile Madonnas [madones infertiles] |
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A series of photographs taken with a concealed camera in a Frankfurt brothel, Jean-Christian Bourcart's Infertile Madonnas offers an insider's red-tinted view of a space still considered by most as off-limits and marginal. Violating the rules and the unspoken understanding between those who work in or frequent such places, Bourcart surreptitiously directs his camera not at graphic scenes but banal ones: a half-dressed woman mending her clothes; a low-light room empty but for a bed, a TV, and an unopened roll of paper towels; a trenchcoated man standing in a doorway, obscuring the lingerie-clad woman behind him. Bourcart is all things at once, acting as a role player, a participant, a customer, and an intruder searching for something, for whatever one searches for in a brothel--maybe more. Through the act of taking these photographs, he is a voyeur, as well; and the viewer, for looking at these pictures, becomes a voyeur along with him. For Nan Goldin, who writes the book's introduction, Bourcart's works "explore desire and exploitation," capturing "desperation and pathos [and] religious narratives between heaven and hell."