2010 Lange–Taylor Prize: Tiana Markova-Gold and Sarah Dohrmann, "If You Smoke Cigarettes in Public, You Are a Prostitute: Women and Prostitution in Morocco"

Monday, November 1, 2010 - 9:00am

Tiana Markova-Gold

Sarah Dohrmann

Honorable Mention awarded to Kitra Cahana and Chris Urquhart

The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University has awarded the twentieth Dorothea Lange–Paul Taylor Prize to photographer Tiana Markova-Gold and writer Sarah Dohrmann, both Americans. The $20,000 award is given to encourage collaboration in documentary work in the tradition of acclaimed American photographer Dorothea Lange and writer and social scientist Paul Taylor. Lange and Taylor worked together for many years, most notably on fieldwork that resulted in American Exodus (1941), a seminal work in documentary studies.

Tiana Markova-Gold and Sarah Dohrmann’s project, “If You Smoke Cigarettes in Public, You Are a Prostitute: Women and Prostitution in Morocco,” is an investigation of female prostitution in Morocco and the experiences of two American non-Muslim women documenting women’s lives in a country where pre-marital virginity is considered sacred. With their project, they “seek to dismantle Americans’ preconceived notions of the prostitute as sexual deviant and the hijabed women as ‘exotic’” and examine the negotiation of relationships “between the prostitute and the society she lives in, between the artist and the subject, between non-Muslim and Muslim women, between women.”

Moroccan society greatly values “‘good’ women, which means maintaining virginity prior to marriage. In a country where men are traditionally the sole income providers, where there is no social security or welfare, where there is a 60 percent illiteracy rate and a 10 percent unemployment rate among women, a girl’s future, should she compromise her ‘purity’ before marriage, is decimated.” It is argued that many women who have lost their virginity prior to marriage “have but two choices: to become a maid or a prostitute.” Markova-Gold and Dohrmann began working on “If You Smoke Cigarettes in Public, You Are a Prostitute: Women and Prostitution in Morocco” in October 2008. Dohrmann had been living in Morocco for over a year and writing about her interactions with prostitutes. However, it wasn’t until Markova-Gold arrived in Morocco that the project was “fully realized.” The two spent a week with two young prostituted women, as well as investigated prostitution in local cafes and clubs.

Markova-Gold and Dohrmann plan to spend three months in Morocco, “living with and documenting the lives of sex workers whose clients are not sex tourists, but are instead fellow Moroccan men.” They will focus on women in prostitution from different economic levels and backgrounds as they engage with them in their homes and in the hotels, clubs, cafes, and streets where they work.

Of their collaboration, they say that together they “gain a different kind of access—one that allows for the cultivation of deep and nuanced relationships, resulting in a complex holistic story. By delving into the lives of Moroccan women who are working as prostitutes, and by honestly and unflinchingly answering to [our] roles as documentarians, [we] hope to reveal greater human truths about sexuality, empowerment, and choices.”

Tiana Markova-Gold is a freelance documentary photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from the Documentary Photography and Photojournalism Program at the International Center of Photography in 2007, where she received a New York Times Scholarship. She has traveled extensively, most recently in Macedonia, Brazil, and Nigeria, documenting social issues with a particular focus on women and girls. Her photographs have been recognized by Pictures of the Year International, New York Photo Awards, PDN Photo Annual, American Photography, and the International Photography Awards. Her work has been included in exhibitions at Sasha Wolf Gallery; HOST gallery in London, England; and the Lumix Festival for Young Photojournalism in Hanover, Germany. She is a 2010 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Photography.

Sarah Dohrmann was born and raised in Iowa, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. She was a 2007–2008 Fulbright Fellow of the Arts in Morocco, where she lived for fifteen months, and a 2009 New York Foundation of the Arts Fellow in Nonfiction Literature. She received her MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College. She has been a writer-in-residence with Teachers & Writers Collaborative since 2001, and has taught writing in Special Programs at Sarah Lawrence College since 2003. Her essays, cultural criticism, and narrative nonfiction have appeared online, in print, and/or are forthcoming in The Iowa Review, Bad Idea (England), Teachers & Writers, and Bad Idea: The Anthology.

Honorable Mention

An honorable mention was awarded to writer Chris Urquhart and photographer Kitra Cahana for their project “The Rainbow Kids,” an in-depth look at nomadic youth in North America. Their first encounter with these roaming children and teenagers was in 2009 at a National Rainbow Family Gathering in New Mexico. “The Gathering is home to a myriad of colorful characters and subcultures, including nudists, raw foodists, Christian missionaries, and ex-convicts,” they write. “We discovered that these ‘family functions’ also act as an important home base for many homeless children and teenagers—a place where free food, shelter, and familial support are doled out liberally, and where every outcast is accepted. Smaller gatherings are held throughout the year at different locations, and many young people make a career out of hitchhiking to all of them; they live on the streets between events.”

Kitra Cahana has worked as a photographic intern at the New York Times and at National Geographic. In 2007, she received a one-year scholarship to live in Treviso, Italy, and work at Fabrica, Benetton’s communications research center. In 2010, she was awarded first prize by World Press Photo for an Arts and Entertainment story for “Rainbowland,” a photo essay about the “Rainbow Kids” published in 2009 in Fabrica’s Colors magazine. She recently graduated from McGill University with a B.A. in philosophy and is pursuing an M.A. in visual and media anthropology from the Freie Universität in Berlin.

Chris Urquhart’s work has appeared in a number of publications, including Colors, the Santiago Times, Russian Esquire, and Adbusters. She has worked as an archaeologist for the city of Toronto, a kindergarten teacher in Chile, a lavender farmer on Vancouver Island, and a nude model for an art collective in Berlin. She is currently the editorial intern at Adbusters and is working as the executive editor of PRISM International. She is at work on a book about modern nomads in North America.