Photographer Nathalie Daoust is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography. These images are from her project ‘Tokyo Hotel Story‘. To see Nathalie’s projects click on any image.
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, fantasize 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.
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.
By Nathalie Daoust