Photographs in Hotel Rooms (2008-2011)/Jay L
Haruki Murakami's book, Q184, talks about the existence of a different reality. The protagonists suddenly find themselves in a reality with two moons. I, too, am very interested in alternate realities but in my hotel room photographs one cannot see the sky.
The question of "truth" in a photograph has been asked since the very invention of photography. This same question is on my mind in every photograph I make. While I want to remove masks and reveal a hidden truth in my photography, I am simultaneously looking to create an imagined reality. This substitute reality is inside my head, inside the heads of the viewers and possibly also inside the heads of the subjects. The idea of possible histories, occurring either before or after the shot, should linger in the air.
The concept of "Hotel Room" is fertile grounds for that imagined reality, whether it is a smart room in a business hotel, or a sleazy one in a hotel for daily use.
When I arrive at the business hotel, in my official role as a corporate manager, the bolting of the door and the hanging of my clothes in the foreign closet signal the initiation of the room as a private, personal, space. The peeling off of my cloths further allows me to enter the role of Photographer/Subject in my parallel world.
When I rent a hotel room for a few hours mid-day, the time and place charge the air with unfamiliar energy long before entering it. The women arriving to be photographed are also exposed, inevitably, to the experience of a "forbidden" place as a precursor to their exposure in front of the camera lens.
These photographs were preceded by a year of photography in the studio. The dark studio would become another place, outside of time. In this secluded bubble of momentary intimacy, barriers collapse, masks are removed, and the camera disappears into the background – but still capturing all.
During my photography sessions with women, always one on one, whether in the studio or in a hotel room, boundary lines are stretched such that internal processes can be explored in front of the camera - processes that exist concurrently in the real and imagined universes. Sometimes I leave the women by themselves, controlling the camera, so they may photograph themselves as part of a game of control. At times I remain in the frame as a passive subject.
My gaze at women, extending the history of the "male gaze" in western culture, seeks to see the uniqueness under the surface, wants to shake established roles, and finally, to look inside.
I am driven to discover the deepest secrets and with them create the world I photograph.
© Jonathan Levy / Jay L