La Puente is the winner of the 2019 FotoEvidence W Award. The project was selected to be published as a book from over 50 entries by an international jury of women photographers and photo editors. The stunning photographs by Charlotte Schmitz in La Puente were made in a large brothel in Ecuador where over 150 women work.
The photos were created in collaboration with the women, who chose their own poses and later painted with nail polish on the Polaroids. The nail polish was initially used to provide anonymity but quickly developed into a creative instrument, a way for the women to beautify the world within the brothel. Not only their selected poses, but also the use of nail polish tell about the women’s inner and outer perceptions. The images also raise questions about the sexualized picture of women in our societies. The process of working with Polaroids and nail polish gave the women control to personalize their own photos, breaking down the power structures in the artistic production itself by including the women in the creative sphere.
Each book cover is painted by the photographer with nail polish and becomes a unique piece. In book signings the colors and nails can be chosen individually by the acquirer. The hard cover feels very soft due to its foam under the carefully chosen white gold metallic paper. Titles and names on the cover are Charlotte Schmitz’ personal handwriting, connecting to her notes inside the book, which once were handwritten in La Puente, and now are accompanying the photographs throughout the book.
The edges of the 500 books were painted personally by the photographer with nail polish throughout several days at the printshop.