After 100 Years in Morocco

Tuomas Koskialho




”My friend - good stuff?! Smoke hash? Maybe you like girls? Very hot. I have twenty of them and a room just for you, my friend!”

Henri Matisse was working in Morocco in 1912-1913 and local prostitutes were modeling for him - and now they are staring back from Matisse’s masterpieces. My intention was to create a pastiche of Matisse’s paintings, focusing on the sex tourism scene in Morocco by pretending to be a sex tourist.

The hustlers will find you before you’ll find them. They will see you from miles away. I bought them drinks, lunches and cigarettes and in return I could photograph their girls. This was ridiculously easy in a country where prostitution is strictly forbidden.

I assume prostitution is happening everywhere, however sex tourism is more complicated - especially when it’s taking place in a developing country such as Morocco. The customers, or ’Johns’, are usually from rather wealthy countries and therefore the power relations are nowhere near in balance. The poorest prostitutes I photographed are from small villages and they are forced into the scene, directly or indirectly.

A photograph has unlimited power. It’s not unusual that the Johns take photos of the prostitutes and upload them online. This has caused plenty of trouble for the prostitutes, who are already the victims of the game.

I edited my photos in order to make it impossible to identify the people in the pictures.

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