Abject Gallery
Friday, May 11, 2018
Saturday, June 16, 2018
8th Floor, Bamburgh House, Market Street East, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6BH
North East England
Abject Gallery

Abject Gallery is pleased to host our second exhibition by Nathalie Daoust, Tokyo Hotel Story. A series of photographs taken inside Japan’s largest S&M brothel.

For the project Tokyo Hotel Story, Nathalie Daoust continues her exploration of the female form and sexuality. Spending several months in the Alpha Inn, Japan’s 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.

For the preview event on Thursday 10th May as well as the Late Shows 2018 on Saturday 19th May, the gallery bar area will be transformed into a Japanese brothel inspired lounge complete with a karaoke stage. Please not this exhibition and events are not suitable for children.

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 neighbourhood, 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.

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