BODY OF DESIRE: HELGA THEILGAARD
Interview with Helga Theilgaard about her nude portraits of prostitutes
By editor Peter Stanners
The Murmur: Where did you get the idea for the photo series?
It started when I moved into a photo studio on Skelbækgade in Vesterbro, near the red light district, in 2010. I noticed girls wandering about during the days and nights from the studio. I could see they had lots of customers, but I wanted to know more. There was so much more that I couldn’t see.
Most of my ideas are built on this curiosity and of wanting to know more about an environment. A few years ago I made a project about the homeless and I could use some of the same contacts to meet the prostitutes. It requires a lot of research and talking to people, listening to them and trying to understand their stories and eventually see if they wanted to participate.
The Murmur: Was it hard finding people who would participate?
It takes a lot of time. Finding willing participates in these environments is difficult. Many didn’t want to at first, because not even their friends knew what they did. It was a secret job. So I let them hide their faces if they wanted. What I wanted to show was their bodies, which is their tool, after all, and which reflects our dreams and longing for lust and desire and our need to be close to people. Lots of my projects have worked with the body. Naked people are interesting; there is more fragility and naked personality. Clothes are just a mask.