Nathalie Daoust’s photographs reflect a love for random places and a wild, inexhaustible sense of inquisitiveness.
Exploring, experiencing and documenting rarely visited landscapes and carefully hidden hotel rooms, Daoust spent the last decade producing voyeuristic insights into these otherwise veiled existences.
The Canadian Daoust, who studied the technical aspects of photography at the Cégep du Vieux-Montréal, spent two years in the late nineties living in the Carlton Arms Hotel in New York. The rooms, all themed and decorated with wild, colourful murals formed an excellent background for Daoust’s photographic projects which focused on the dark, obscure and, especially in those years, the ghostly. Daoust has traveled extensively and took photos not only of New York hotel rooms but also of Tokyo’s red light district, Brazilian brothels and Swiss naturists populating the Alps.
Daoust has created an oeuvre that is both diverse and intense. Seeking to translate her almost childlike curiosity, her perseverance and her highly individual interpretation of the world into fairytale like stories, Daoust single-handedly creates new myths about modern day society, as well as real-life stories of the underdogs. – Georgia Haagsma –
Since my very first experiments in photography I have been fascinated by human behavior and its various realities, by the ever-present human desire of living in a dream world. The aesthetic of my new project continues this visual exploration at the border between dream and reality, yet this time embraces personal escapism and the act of loosing oneself.
My objective as an artist is to push the boundaries of photography through experimental methods, working with new mediums and discovering new techniques in the darkroom
Tokyo Hotel Story
This exhibition consist of 30 images 68cm x 47cm
For the project Tokyo Hotel Story, Nathalie Daoust continues her exploration of the female form and sexuality. Spending several months in the Alpha Inn, Japans largest S&M ‘Love Hotel’, Daoust has photographed 39 dominatrixes in their private rooms. Daoust regards the Alpha Inn as a stage for human desire and S&M as the mere expression of a need to dream, fantasise and escape. The resulting images transform the darker, grittier factions of society into a narrative that is symptomatic of our time.
Through her photography Daoust explores cultures often hidden and inaccessible. It is not surprising that the alluring and illusive location of the Alpha Inn would play host to her work. Set deep within a residential neighborhood, the building is a portal to a world of sexual fantasy and excess. No cameras or media are allowed within the confines of the Inn, however Daoust was granted exclusive access to photograph the Hotel and the women who offer their services to an elite clientele. In Tokyo Hotel Story, Daoust deviates from the shocking surface of S&M; instead she chooses to focus on the ‘ordinary’ within an extraordinary setting. The intimacy and trust Daoust has forged with her subjects has allowed her to penetrate the tough exterior of the women’s alternate identities to unearth the human personality behind the regalia and decor.
Concentrating on the dynamic between the public and private persona, Daoust aims to capture her subjects in a semi natural state, between their two extremes, i.e. that of the role of the dominatrix and the dutiful traditional role that is still expected of Japanese women. Some of the portraits are demonstrative and analytical while others are brief lapses in a days work; Daoust has carefully catalogued every aspect of the women’s surroundings; this attention to detail allows her audience to deduce the graphic extent of the activities that take place within each room.
While her work explores taboos and fantasies, it is within her darkroom, that she fuses both image and concept together. Daoust has juxtaposed sharp, well-defined areas against softer, blurred areas to suggest the colliding worlds of fantasy and reality. Experimenting with darkroom techniques allows her to have a more tangible and intimate connection with the outcome of the work, processing the negatives more closely to how she experienced her subjects and their surroundings. The outcome is a series of evocative portraits that delve beyond taboos revealing a universal human desire to escape reality, creating alternate worlds that oscillate between fantasy, truth and perversion. [Official Website]