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Posted January 22, 2009
Brenner's photographs report the New Orleans strip-club scene in a gritty style. The noirish, realistic photos capture the words from the lines of a poem 'The Grind of Bourbon Street' used as an epigraph for the 50 or so photos--'The grind of/merely surviving the harshness of living...' This 'grind' is juxtaposed with the 'grind' of the crowds and of the music. Yet the women do not appeal for sympathy nor are they photographed to evoke sympathy. Neither are Brenner's photos moralistic in that they belittle or judge the women. Their work as strippers is merely and equivalently another kind of work, like the work of other laborers or blue-collar workers. The scenes with women smoking and drinking sodas offstage and even the shots of them in their nearly naked performances have a matter-of-fact quality. Here the flesh of breasts, buttocks, backs, and thighs is simply another element of the scene, like the excited or jaded men with their beers. Everyone is playing a prescribed role. Only the few photos of younger women, little more than girls, with faintly frantic looks for means of escape suggest the vacuousness of the enterprise sucking the adult women and men into it with no hope or desire of return at the point they have reached. After Katrina, one will wait and see if this aspect of the famed New Orleans Bourbon Street night life comes back.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.