05th Feb - 18th Apr 2010
Impressions Gallery, in partnership with Autograph ABP, presents
not Natasha by award-winning photographer Dana Popa.
This hard-hitting and harrowing project, made over the last four years, documents the experiences of sex-trafficked women from Moldova through photography and collected stories. Popa says, ‘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 source countries for trafficking women and children, with up to 10% of the female population sold into prostitution abroad. Poverty, the desire for a better life, and the need to escape broken families and oppression make them vulnerable to traffickers, who offer false promises of well-paid jobs abroad. Once arrived in the country of destination, the girls are sold to pimps and their passports confiscated.
Popa worked with the International Organisation for Migration and Winrock International in Moldova, where she photographed and documented the disturbing experiences of these women. She also collected the stories of those who remain disappeared, photographing their families, homes, and in some cases children who were left behind. Finally, she documented the spaces where trafficked women are forced into prostitution in the brothels of Soho, London.
Mark Sealy, Director of Autograph ABP, says, ‘Popa’s photographs are a powerful enquiry into a pervasive form of violence against women. They are a tragic reminder of just how vulnerable and powerless women are globally, and expose the futility of universal declarations’.
Dana Popa (born 1977, Romania) is a photo-artist based in London who graduated from the London College of Communication. Popa specialises 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. In 2010 Dana Popa was awarded first place in the world renowned Center Project Competition 2010. Dana’s 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.
Below you can watch the film Two Little Girls narrated by Juliet Stevenson, which is being shown in the exhibition and highlights the issues in Popa's work. This is a powerful and cautionary tale which has already become a talking point amongst victims of the sex-trafficking trade. While many films on the subject are often distressing and difficult to watch, this film draws in the audience with its animated fairy tale style and music before hitting home with its serious message.