Moneygame : The Show presents photographer Elizabeth Waterman’s fine art portfolio that recasts the lives of strippers and exotic dancers through a female gaze.
Over a period of five years, Los Angeles-based fine-art photographer Elizabeth Waterman spent her Saturday nights in clubs in five U.S. cities, photographing and building a rapport with strippers and exotic dancers working in those establishments. The Los Angeles Times wrote that Waterman “recast the lives of exotic dancers through a female gaze.” She captured them climbing the pole, putting on glittery outfits, and counting their dollars at the end of a long night. Images from this foray were introduced in her now sold-out coffee-table book MONEYGAME (XYZ Books, 2021). MONEYGAME: THE SHOW, the first-ever exhibition of this portfolio, opens at Los Angeles venue ArtBarLA on July 23 (closes 8/14). A live pole dancing performance will take place by dancer Charm, who is currently participating in a high-profile, long-running strike to unionize an L.A. area strip club.
Waterman says, “It took months to get access to my first clubs. No one quite understood what I was doing there. But I came in week after week. I helped collect the dollar bills littering the stage. The dancers began to warm to me. I showed them my work, and they liked how I saw them. Soon they were volunteering to pose on the pole. I know I’ve been changed by the experience. I’ve taken on some of their audacity.”
On view through 8/14, the exhibition presents photographs published in the book, and others that have never been shown – both onstage shots and reflective portraits. Taken primarily on 35mm and 120mm film, the selections include shots from all the cities Waterman visited for the project: Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, Miami, and New Orleans. The show curated by Juri Koll, founder of Venice Institute of Contemporary Art (ViCA). A very limited quantity of the MONEYGAME book will be available for collectors who purchase prints.
With a nuanced gaze and the kindred spirit of a young female artist building her own body of work, Waterman celebrates her subjects’ humanity and commitment to mastering their art in service of larger life goals. Often, these women are using income from stripping as part of a well-considered strategy to pay off student loans, raise a family, buy a home, or launch a business.
In October, MONEYGAME will show in London, UK at BOOGIE-WALL, a gallery working with international women artists (10/13-11/26). In 2023, the exhibition opens at Howard Yezerski Gallery in Boston, MA (6/23-7/29). Currently, the online exhibition “Gorgeous Drag,” featuring Waterman’s photographs depicting the NYC drag scene – presented by Stephan Schmid and Albumen Gallery London – is available to view through 8/19: https://albumen-gallery.com/exhibitions/drag-queens/.
A portion of proceeds from sales of MONEYGAME prints will benefit the non-profit Sex Workers Outreach Project-USA, a national grassroots social justice network dedicated to the fundamental human rights of sex workers and their communities.
About the artist:
A through-line in Los Angeles-based photographer Elizabeth Waterman’s body of work is the depiction of artists and performers of many genres and sub-cultures. Her style is cinematic in feel, elegantly composed, infused with directness, and suggestive of a story behind the image. Born in Taos, NM and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Waterman began her career while living in NYC. She holds a B.A. in Fine Art from the University of Southern California.
Elizabeth Waterman : Moneygame : The Show
On view through August 14, 2022
12017 Venice Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066