Jane Hilton: Precious at Eleven Gallery
The word “precious” is defined as either “of high price or great value” or “affectedly or excessively delicate”. Both are lovingly and honestly explored in Precious at Eleven Gallery, as Jane Hilton illuminates the faces of those working behind the closed doors of brothels in Nevada.
The relationship that Hilton established with these women during the project is poignantly evident. The acuteness of this intimacy defines the body of work as something quite beyond the genre of documentary photography: this is far more personal, and should be experienced in an appropriately tender manner by the viewer – i.e. with the viewer really taking time to look and spend time with the women in the photographs.
Hilton’s insight into the American Dream is founded on person-to-person experiences, rather than a universal and remote view. Much of her work dissects the American Dream’s notions of fantasy, with Precious existing as an especially affectionate exploration into its juxtaposition with reality: the self-assured offering of “Hot & Nasty Wild Sex” hangs limp as a sign on an old gate against a backdrop of barren desert and almighty, jagged mountain ranges (Hot, Nasty, Wild Sex). Many of those photographed have taken on this work to fund their prospective careers or even impending parenthood. Hilton blows away any preconceptions so that we see far beyond “the sex worker” to the independent woman who chooses to realise her dreams and freedoms by serving those of others.
The make-up, piercings and tattoos adorning the women in Precious bear testament to each unique saga that Hilton attentively unravelled during her stay at the brothels. A closer look at the pictures reveals small but intriguing indications of personal taste and behaviour beyond the women’s daily work: a Harry Potter Book, a bikini with kiwi fruit design, a used ashtray. Each and every one is represented with acute individuality, alone with the photographer and captured in their own unique and precious glow.
The emotional gravity of the Precious series is matched by the approach Hilton has taken to the photography itself. The three-dimensionality of these images comes straight from her heart and will equally bewitch and enlighten its audience.
Jane Hilton: Precious is at Eleven Gallery until 25th May 2013. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.
For further information about Jane Hilton visit her website here.