Falkland Road is a notorious street of prostitutes in Bombay. It is like any busy lower-class street in Bombay, densely populated by vendors, merchants and shops, but also over-crowded with girls, from 11-year-olds to 65-year-old ex-madams. The street is lined with old wooden buildings, which teem with prostitutes hanging out of the windows, in the viewing cages on the ground floor and on the steps. From sunrise to sunset the customers pass down the street to survey the girls.
Mary Ellen Mark’s extraordinary portrait of Falkland Road was first published in 1981, and has long been recognised as one of the major bodies of work in the canon of this significant Magnum photographer. The book contains 65 photographs made over six weeks that show the daily life lived by the women (and men) of the street. Mark’s images are beautiful, electric, shocking, and remarkable for their emotional power and for the visceral brilliance of their colour. Together with Mark's captions and introductory text, Falkland Road is an astonishing insight into a raw and frightening world, made accessible by the completeness of the photographer’s involvement, by her humanity, and by the way she captures the variety of individual life and the colour, passion, and tenderness that still abide there.