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In her book Big Sister , photographer Hana Jakrlova explores an internet sex club in Prague where the clients get to have sex for free as long as they agree to let their exploits be filmed and broadcast live across the web. Beyond making her struggle with the notion of over-sharing, Jakrlova says the project also challenged her as a photographer and as a woman.
While the johns always seemed to behave themselves, she says the acts that played out were hard to be around. Prostitution is legal in the Czech Republic, but that doesn't make it any less exploitative, she says. The book is titled after the name of the club, Big Sister , which closed in Most of the photos were taken between and Jakrlova says not all the interactions she witnessed at the club felt staged.
There were moments of real affection between the clients and prostitutes, but the fact that those moments were broadcast online always qualified and relativized them, she says. Several of her other photos also make clear how much the web cameras stick out.
There is no attempt to hide or disguise them and instead they become part of the scene. The cameras are not only characters in the action, they also redefine the definition of client and prostitute, says Jakrlova. Because the internet viewers are the only ones who are financially involved, it changes their role in the relationship, she says. In many ways it makes the viewers the johns and makes the real johns part of the prostitution. For Jakrlova, this type of service is indicative of a larger, ominous trend of broadcasting more and more intimacies across the globe via the internet.
It takes a conscious effort certainly on my part to be not be wrapped into it and to keep perspective. The virtual world in my opinion will always be secondary. Like the Buddhists say, 'Here, now. In her new project, Jakrlova says she's continuing her exploration of how sharing affects the way we experience a moment. The project consists of pasting multiple but altered copies of a single photo side by side, creating a whole new aesthetic. For her it represents the importance people place on sharing an experience instead of engaging with it.