‘Passion 202’ is a series shot on film documenting Japanese ‘love hotels’. One of the photographs from this series was a winning image at Photo London ‘Photography on a Postcard’ competition, 2018.
I first became aware of Japanese ‘Love Hotels’ while photographing areas of Japan for a music commission. Designed for couples with busy lives, little private space, and/or a need to hire an anonymous room for intimacy and sexual intercourse, love hotels are very popular. Hired by the hour, or for an overnight ‘stay’, couples hire rooms often via use of a vending machine in the hotel lobby. I instantly found the hotel rooms and their contents fascinating. And a bit gross.
As with regular hotel rooms the rooms in love hotels are often prescriptive with two of everything, but with the added visual interest of a mixture of garish, dated and/or clinical decor. I have yet to come across a love hotel room with a window.
‘Passion 202’ takes its name from one of the hotel rooms I photographed in Tokyo in 2017. The images in this series are shot on 35mm film and show different areas and items from within various love hotels. Despite their different themes and types of decor, the rooms all share common details; nicotine stained walls, practical wipe-clean furniture, pairs of slippers, boxes of tissues, dated 60s, 70s and 80s design. I used my old trusted 70s Canon AE1 with onboard flash and a fixed 50mm lens. This aged, analogue camera, widely used and available to the masses throughout the 1970s, somehow felt apt for its weird, dated surroundings.
I approached the photographing of each room as a forensic photographer might; carefully documenting the scene, the items in the room remaining untouched and almost expectant for their next love-making couple. I wanted to ‘freeze’ them in time with the stark onboard camera flash. I purposefully veered away from photographing the beds in each room. For me, the punctum, the main point of interest was found in the items and decor surrounding the beds. The slippers, cups, showers et al all forming some kind of strangely practical addendum to the act of sex. I wanted to capture the sense of love-making-spontaneity having been replaced with perfunctory and precision-placed articles and objects.
I am both allured and slightly repelled by the items and decor that adorn the love hotel rooms; there is a gross-beautiful feeling to it all. There is a sense of transience, of temporariness. The items and decor are the practical punctuation to the act of love-making. Bathrooms to clean up in, pairs of slippers to walk around in, cups to sip coffee from. Pairs of things for couples away from their homes, everything prepared and ready for their fleeting rendezvous…