Chicas del Reloj
Chicas del Reloj (‘Girls of the Clock’) is a photographic portrait series and documentary short depicting the sex workers of Cartagena, Colombia, who congregate nightly in the main square of the walled city under the 17th Century landmark, 'La Torre del Reloj'. So far, 51 women have been photographed for the series.
I met Ana Sofía in 2016 - charming in appearance and demeanor, dressed as any other Colombian in their early 20's - with an occupation most would not assume. In her home country of Venezuela, already in the throes of an ongoing crisis, her mother's health was in decline. Through her livelihood, Ana Sofía made a life for herself in Colombia, and provided for her mother’s recovery. As the dire situation in Venezuela continues, multitudes of young refugee women have descended on Colombia's cities, finding prostitution as their only escape.
Sans any environmental indications to suggest their lifestyle or circumstances that have driven them to this line of work; without hourly motel beds, gritty alleyways or high-heels; we see all of these women as only themselves – coy, smiling, earnest - physically and emotionally scarred.
The images waver between stark and straightforward - evoking compassion and distress; and light-hearted and endearing, capturing their unexpected innocence and humanity. Instead of suggesting sexuality and arousal, the depictions of Las Chicas del Reloj as mostly nude reveals them authentically, without superficial clues leading toward disparaging conclusions.
Presented without judgement or political inference, these images are an appeal to change perceptions and expectations of a world that few can comprehend.
In total, 53 women have thus far been photographed for this series.