Nathalie Daoust: China Dolls, June 12-26, 2018

China Doll

Artist Nathalie Daoust

Daoust travelled to China in 2006 for an artist residency with the Red Gate Gallery and fell in love with the culture.  Since then, she has looked for any excuse to return to China and has spent many months exploring the country

Over the years, Daoust has become more and more intrigued by the role that women play in Chinese society and how quickly this role is changing.  Daoust has explored how the one-child policy has impacted women, conditioning them to place value on male while rejecting female offspring.

Intrigued by this new generation of women and their struggle in the modern world, Daoust sought to photograph them individually, documenting their separate stories within an overcrowded society.   Using a specially constructed human-sized box, Daoust placed her female subjects in the dark, alone with their thoughts, while she photographed them with light painting.

The photographic installation comprises twenty-eight portraits of black-and-white and hand coloured prints.  In this collection, Daoust pays homage to the women that have long remained in the shadows.  Fleeting and delicate, the body of work serves as a perspective on the young women of China, struggling to find their identity in a rapidly changing country.  From one portrait to the next, we find dreamy, impressionistic, subtle and even melancholic images that serve to illustrate, from both an historical and contemporary perspective, the women who are now uprooting themselves from former constraints.

Exhibition is curated by Gantuya Badamgarav

About artist

A graduate of the Cégep du Vieux in Montreal, Canadian photographer Nathalie Daoust launched into public consciousness in 1999 with the surreal series New York Hotel Story.  This sequence of photographs investigates the Carlton Arms Hotel’s 54 uniquely decorated rooms. The resultant images establish Daoust as a photographer capable of cutting beneath the surface to expose her subject’s hidden desires. Her images are portals, allowing the viewer to glimpse a world divorced from reality, one that flickers from childlike wonderment to perversion.

Daoust is led by her need to understand the human impulse to construct experiences that allow us to live, at least for a moment, in a fictive world.  From female dominatrices at an S&M Love Hotel in Japan in Tokyo Hotel Story, to one man’s decision to discard his own identity in favor of another in Impersonating Mao, her work inhabits the liminal space between fiction and truth.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column]

Her most conceptually complex project to date, Korean Dreams, explores the meaning of fantasy itself.  While in North Korea she experienced the manipulation of reality on a national scale; her photographs capture the layers of forced illusion perpetuated by the North Korean government.

Employing a variety of non-digital means to address her subjects, Daoust’s methods play a crucial role in communicating content. Using specialized darkroom techniques, the process of creating the image itself contributes to her conceptual explorations.  She is the recipient of numerous awards, and her work has been extensively showcased and published worldwide.

– Samantha Small