Maya Goded

b. 1970 in Mexico
Lives and works in Mexico

The series of photographs that form Maya Goded’s Welcome to Lipstick were taken within the so-called zona roja or red-light district of Reynosa, a city on the US - Mexico border near the state of Texas. The red-light district of Reynosa can be considered as a town itself within the city, a community with its own rules and laws in which women live and work in small rooms containing just a bed and a television set. Isolated and hidden away behind walls, these women are kept out of sight, away from the supposedly decent gaze of the rest of the city’s population. Reynosa’s red-light district dates back to the nineteenth century, when the then emperor of Mexico, Maximilian of Habsburg, in a bid to protect his soldiers from venereal diseases, decided to implement a system of prostitution control, classifying the women who carried out this trade as first-, second- or third-class prostitutes. Later, at the end of the period of the Mexican Revolution (1926), the new constitutionalist regime designated specific areas in cities, so-called “tolerance zones”, for the establishment of authorized businesses dedicated to the sale of bodies, so as not to interfere with the social fabric of the city.  Due to it’s lack of size and planning, Mexico City did not have one single “tolerance zone”. Instead, many of them expanded unevenly in poor neighbourhoods were the trade in bodies and merchandise coexisted. In other cities, however, the establishment of clearly defined areas was achieved. This was the case in Reynosa, were prostitution became an authorized business in 1925. Bodies on display and for sale, waiting for clients who do not come to what was only recently a very busy area. The Reynosa red-light district is today a violent and lawless place which very few people dare to visit. The majority of the population that used to live in the area has migrated to other states of the country or to the USA. Today there only remain those trapped by their past, by their own history, by some love affair, or by the simple impossibility of getting away. In spite of this visible decline, the need of these women to survive keeps the area alive. However, what was once the centre of a lucrative prostitution business is now a devastated community. 

Maya Goded, Untitled, 2010. From the series ‘Welcome to Lipstick’, Tamaulipas Re