By E.J. Bellocq
These photographs of Storyville prostitutes, taken by E.J. Bellocq circa 1912, didn't become famous until photographer Lee Friedlander came across the 89 plates of Bellocq's visual legacy and printed them for a show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1970. In the first pages of the book, the women appear happy to pose in various bewitchingly seductive layers of dress and undress. The message from both the photographer and his subjects seems to be 'It's fun to be a prostitute.' That is, until page 40, where violent blobs of black obscure a woman's head. We are suddenly looking at a world with a darker story. A world where either the women themselves have chosen to disappear or, more ominously, a world where some thwarted lover, not interested in Bellocq's pretty fiction, mutilated these young women's faces, forever thrusting them into oblivion.