Catalan Review

IZAS, RABIZAS Y COLIPOTERRAS: UN ÀLBUM FURTIU

Catalan Review (1998), 18, (1-2), 181–190.

Abstract

This essay examines the work of Joan Colom, a Catalan photographer who has come to receive a welter of honors, including the National Prize in Photography, but whose career has been anything but easy and uninterrupted. Colom’s fame derives largely from Izas, rabizas y colipoterras, a photo-book produced in collaboration with Camilo José Cela that focuses on the prostitutes of the Barri Xino of Barcelona and that quickly acquired a cult status among members of the “divine left” critical of Franco’s morally smug regime. Addressing tensions between amateurism and professionalism, art and documentation, the studio and the street, and the image and the word, Fontcuberta presents Colom’s work as a radiography in which the camera serves as an instrument of political critique and the vibrancy and sordidness of street life come to the fore. Inimitable as the book is, it nonetheless allows for productive comparisons with more recent, feminist inflected work on streets, streetwalkers, and sex workers from beyond Barcelona: Susan Meiselas’s Carnival Strippers; Elisabeth B’s Das ist ja zum Peepen; Merry Alpern’s Dirty Windows, and Erika Langley’s The Lusty Lady.

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Fontcuberta, Joan