UK CULTURE
30/01/2012 08:23 GMT | Updated 31/03/2012 06:12 BST

Portraits From Brazilian Brothels: Hirosuke Kitamura's 'Hidra' Exhibition

If there is a fundamental conflict for viewers of Hirosuke Kitamura's Hidra series - the subject of a new exhibition about to launch in New York - it is perhaps in deciding where his images lie on the spectrum between art house photography and photo-journalism.

At first glance the anonymous figures, half-captured in brutal shades against backdrops of dirty floors and cracked walls, look like the cast of a stylised photo shoot, perhaps taken on the set of a film.

In actual fact they are female sex workers, living and working in inexpensive brothels in Brazil.

Japanese-Brazilian artist Kitamura arrived in Brazil as an exchange student in 1990, a place he would later come to call his permanent home after a career that has mingled photography, painting and journalism.

Hidra - so-called in relation to the fabled Hydra figure from Greek mythology - has been curated for New York's 1500 Gallery by celebrated Brazilian artist Miguel Rio Branco.

Branco said: "Something quietly emerges at every moment throughout these images: ghosts halfway between sex and death; fragments of seduction that wander in-between lost worlds.

"Sexuality is something transparent, smoky and elusive under our fingertips. But how does one define sexuality in a place where the body is everything - not only material but also consumable?"

Do you agree Kitamura's photos are an exploration of sexuality? Or do they feel like an exploitative way to tell their subjects' stories? Let us know below.

Photo galleryHirosuke Kitamura See Gallery