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Dana Popa: not Natasha @ Photofusion Photography Centre, London

Dana Popa: not Natasha @  Photofusion Photography Centre, London

July 23, 2009 until September 18, 2009 // Photofusion Photography Centre // London, UK

Autograph ABP in partnership with Photofusion presents not Natasha by award-winning photographer Dana Popa. This major project began in 2006 when Popa first traveled to the Republic of Moldova to document, through photography and collected stories, the experiences of sex-trafficked women and their families. 'Natasha' is the nickname given to prostitutes with Eastern European looks. Sex trafficked girls hate it.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moldova is one of the main trafficking source countries for women and children. It is estimated that between 200,000 and 400,000 women have been sold into prostitution abroad – up to 10% of the female population. In Moldova, Popa worked with the International Organization for Migration Shelters and Winlock International where she was given access to photograph and document the experiences of 17 women who had been trafficked.

In 2007 Autograph ABP commissioned Popa to return to Moldova where she began to collect the stories of the disappeared and photograph the families, the homes and in some cases the children who have been left behind. Finally, Popa returned to the UK where she documented the spaces where trafficked women are forced into prostitution in the brothels of Soho, London.

'Behind the fancy facades of the cosmopolitan capitals of Europe, hundreds of rooms become exile spaces for myriads of bodies objectified for male fantasy. While most of them are squalid and cold, many others appear familiar and warm. Mirrors, red lights, posters, the list of services on the bedside – all these little attempts at humanising these rooms, at imbuing them with a kind of homeliness, speak for the girls' need to survive.' Natasha Christia, photography writer and curator

Human trafficking is currently estimated to have a market value of over 32 billion US dollars. Forced prostitution of women and children is the most widespread form of human trafficking today. Kevin Bales, the world's leading expert on contemporary global slavery, recognizes that poverty, deprivation, the desire for a better life and the need to escape conflict and oppression are the vital elements that bring people into contact with traffickers. Deception and false promises are important strategies employed by traffickers. Gaining the confidence of the targeted individuals and their families is an essential part of the trafficking process.

Dana Popa is a photo-artist based in London who graduated from the London College of Communication. Popa specializes in contemporary social issues, with a particular emphasis on human rights. In 2007, not Natasha received the Jury Prize in the Days Japan International Photojournalism Awards and the Jerwood Photography Award. Her work has been exhibited widely and includes the Noorderlicht Photofestival in Leeuwarden, at the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts in Tokyo and in the exhibition Moving Walls 14 at the Open Society Institute in New York.

www.photofusion.org

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