La Puente is the biggest brothel in southern Ecuador in the city of Machala, where 170 women are working. The photos were created in collaboration with the women, who chose their own poses and later painted with nail polish on their polaroids. Working with an instant camera gave them the possibility to control and personalize their own photos. The nail polish was initially used to provide anonymity, but quickly developed into a creative instrument, and way to beautify the world within the brothel. Not only their selected poses, but also the use of nail polish tell about the women’s inner and outer perceptions. The work raises as well questions about the general sexualized picture of women in our societies. The artist Charlotte Schmitz was given bed sheets by the women, which become part of the work and exhibitions. They are the only personal items in the rooms of La Puente, breaking its monotony.
The word puente means bridge, in Spanish a masculine noun ("el puente“), adapted to fit the context and thus feminized – La Puente. When Charlotte first heard of it, she was 18 years old and living in Machala since a few months. Banana plantations, a bridge, a compound on the right side, a dusty road leading to it, and suddenly a traffic jam. Charlotte asked surprised for its reason, here outside of the city. "It's our brothel, the biggest in the province", answered her friends laughing. Everyone in the city knows the place, knows where it is, or has been there before. Ten years later, Charlotte visited La Puente for the first time. Since then, hundreds of polaroids, interviews and videos were made. La Puente will be published as a book in summer 2019.