Found in an Argentine Limousine
The NY Times Lens Blog features a series by Myriam Meloni, an Italian photographer, who, while recovering from an injury in Argentina, began spending a lot of time in taxis to attend physical therapy sessions. Over the course of things, she learned that her cabby also drove limos, and had interesting stories about what went on in them. So she chose a uniform angle and “transformed the limo’s back seat into a shoe-box theater, with her as an audience of one, witnessing a parade of scenes.” See the photos here.
One of the people she encountered was Leila, a 23-year-old woman working as a stripper, who—to Meloni’s shock—had sex with four men in the car.
“But what impressed me is that I saw the girl manage the situation so easily,” said Ms. Meloni, adding that, through it all, she thought the woman projected poise. But when the four men left and the vehicle drove along, she saw a complete change in the woman (Slide 6). And when the veneer of a passenger’s constructed image was pierced, the contrast with reality could be startling.
“When I saw her totally alone, when I started to see her face, how she looked, how young she was and I took this portrait, I had a special feeling with this woman,” Ms. Meloni said. “Her attitude was totally different. She was just acting.”
She later photographed and wrote about Leila’s life in the essay Important Things Are Said Softly, which is incredible. She writes (of Leila):
She has two children to support. I went into her daily life and I found a strong woman, careful with her context, stubborn, generous and in fact, quite romantic.
I also witnessed her loneliness and frustration. I was wondering how she feels every time she gets undressed in front of a stranger, and what she dreams of, when I hear her humming a romantic melody.
Photo: An inflatable doll, forgotten on the seat of the limo. By Myriam Melona via The NY Times.