The Waiting Game, by Txema Salvans

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Words by Billie Jenkins

The images collected in Txema Salvans ‘The Waiting Game’ are startling. Collected over six years under the pretence of being a roadside surveyor, they give a sad and haunting account of the working women (and sometimes girls) who wait patiently in unforgiving, and sometimes desolate landscapes for their next client. They cast the daily experiences of a prostitute in Spain under scrutiny, and reveal a bleak reality. Most frequently depicted in states of undress, the women’s vulnerability is compounded on by the stark, vast landscapes they exist within. Any glean of glamour the title working girl implies is brutally stripped away.

Txema’s images resist moralising the industry in any direct way, rather the isolation and sadness of the women and the situations they inhabit slowly build up an emotional response in the readers own mind. Although prostitution is legal in Spain, those who participate are still marginalised by society. A humiliating contrast is drawn between the ‘luxury’ underwear and shoes they adorn for their work with the poverty of the places and people around them, to the extent their attire is almost farcical.

The images have the power to stay with the reader long after their viewing. It is always disconcerting when a less savoury part of our society is exposed, and this is  no different. The women we see in the book are the faces of an industry we would like to simply ignore, however Txema’s work has given voice to their existence. A bold collection of photographs, that should be given the thought it deserves.

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