Roswitha Hecke’s photo book Liebes Leben (Love Life) about the Zurich artist-muse and prostitute, Irene, also called “Lady Shiva,” was published for the first time in 1978. It became both a cult book and an international success. Reprinted many times and translated into several languages, it is finally available again. The new, revised volume put out by Edition Patrick Frey presents photos that have never before been published. It is through the director Werner Schroeter that Roswitha Hecke met Irene. Irene, a secret star of Zurich’s Bohème at that time, worked as a prostitute until her tragic accidental death. For three weeks Hecke photographed her daily routine in Zurich and accompanied her to Rome where Irene always celebrated her birthday. The result was a subtle and strong portrait of a woman, both beautiful and confident, with an unrivaled eroticism and proud elegance. The photos, a mix of choreographed and documentary work, capture an unusual immediacy and presence.
“Irene wanted to be pretty, to be a woman, to be free. She was direct and moody, like a child. She loved a flirt more than marriage. Tension more than harmony. Longing more than satisfaction. And distance more than contact. She lived her life according to this, come what may.” (Roswitha Hecke)