Pot Of Dreams: Look At Me returns to Club Rouge for its third year, offering a look at the club’s dancers in their own words and images. The result is eye-opening, occasionally upsetting, but also empowering.
The exhibition is created entirely by the girls in their spare time, consisting of various different elements. One of my favourite parts of the show displays personal stories from different girls. These range from funny to inspiring to informative. One anonymous account titled, ‘Dear Vagina’ recounts in an amusing but bittersweet way some of the biological struggles and confusions of being a stripper, but also of being a woman in general. Meanwhile, Rebecca’s account documents a harrowing love/hate relationship with her job, acknowledging the bitchiness that exists amongst the competitive girls, yet understanding that ‘the meanest girl is probably hurting the most’.
The word ‘disrespect’ is used by many of the girls, discussing exactly where they draw the line - how most of the patrons understand exactly what the nature of the business is, but how they often feel judged at face value. Many of the girls are using the money to fund their education, and this exhibition shows that despite people assuming they must be failures to be in their line of work, they are ambitious and creative girls. For example, there are murals by the girls in the outside courtyard, as well as informative self-compiled booklets on the History of Striptease and a James Bond photoshoot by Holly Davison. Although it is quite obviously amateur photography, the exhibition is such a wonderful opportunity to explore topics they love in a creative manner. Similarly, the exhibition is rough around the edges as it is something they are doing outside of their professional work, but the fact that it exists at all shows how passionate they are about making art, as well as about portraying themselves in their own terms.
However, the professional photos done by Jannica Honey are much more effective than the shots that they took themselves, offering a slideshow of the dancers behind-the-scenes: This can be them smoking in their lingerie in the courtyard, practising pole dancing, or straightening their extensions in the changing room - successfully offering a look at the normality of these girls. Furthermore, the exhibition reaches out to all women, with a wall of photos that anyone can submit to, wanting women to show themselves how they want to be seen, without the use of a photographer. This independence and confidence is inspiring and a wonderful way to create connections between all women, no matter their profession.