Christian Nilson

I am a hard working, motivated and dedicated autodidact photographer. I’m Swedish and have lived in Switzerland for a total of 12 years now. I am Represented by LA Noble Gallery, am member of The Swiss Association for Contemporary Photography NEAR and the Swiss photographer agency 13 Photo AG. My roots are in street photography but nowadays I mostly work on short- and long-term photo documentaries. My camera gives me a reason to explore new places and forces me to challenge the introvert in me. My method is using high flash, because I want the viewer to see everything, no hiding, no guessing.

Rote Villa

This project was photographed over a period of 3 years in one of the best-known brothels in Switzerland, the Rote Villa. It is a story about the complicated reality that is a brothel. The women who work there are strong in character and are resolved to their everyday life as sex workers living and working in the Rote Villa. In our society sex is historically idealised as an intimate act imbued romantically as something sacred and pure. At the Rote Villa we understand that sex is a commodity, a transaction to fulfil a basic human need. The women here provide a service that on the surface appears to be like almost any other.

Most of the women come from Eastern Europe and have had a pretty rough life in one way or another. With unemployment rates being what they are in Eastern Europe and the fact that most of the women have not had access to a solid education gives them limited chances of earning good money in a regular job. Sex work for them is a way to be able to support themselves and their families back home. The average salary, for example in Romania is around €450, which on a ‘good night‘ can be made in the Rote Villa. For the women it is a means of survival to sell their company and their bodies to lonely men.

Sex work is legal in Switzerland, which also raises questions about the state potentially acting as a “pimp”, making money of sex workers through taxes and fees these women have to pay to get the proper papers and if it’s actually changing something for these women for the better or not.

To view more of Christian’s work please visit his website.