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New York Hotel Story
by Nathalie Daoust
What is it with Terry & the Hotel Books?

Before I go into why this book is so wonderful, you should go over to newyorkhotelstory.com and check out the beautiful site, which will then lead you to order this beautiful book as soon as possible. I have gone from discovering Nathalie's work in a magazine to becoming quite found of her as a person. In many ways, she is as fascinating as the images she captures.

New York Hotel Story is so much more than an extended photo study in the unique Carlton Arms Hotel. It is difficult to describe the book in a way that captures its glory, because before the book, I spent months pouring over the images at the website, and to me Nathalie Daoust's work became a beautiful puzzle that was a storm of whispers that lured me back again and again. The book embodies the experience perfectly, showcasing room after mysterious room. New York Hotel Story is a key to another realm. Opening the pages of this book is akin to opening doors that you shouldn't be opening and peering into an experience that is warped, yet beautiful.Looking through Nathalie's eyes is like swimming in a dream, and you will find yourself seeking that dream repeatedly, not unlike a drug. She is not by any means just a photographer though, and what you will come to understand most importantly is that she is an artist and a visionary.

The book itself is a graphic design masterpiece (surprisingly there is even a 3D section with 3D glasses). Examining her work will leave many puzzled at how she achieved the look of the images and even more perplexed in learning there is no digital manipulation. What gives this book its soul is that you know that the subjects in each room have lived a hundred lifetimes. There is an "old soul" in every room, and it is evident that this applies to Ms. Daoust as well. The opening page reveals Ms. Daoust to be a youthful and beautiful woman, but the pages that follow reflect the work of someone who sees the world from the eyes of a thousand ghosts. As described in the introduction, "ghosts" are exactly what you can expect to see in New York Hotel Story, as though the camera took a picture of an empty room, only to learn upon development that the photographer was not alone. It is no surprise to me that Natalie has recently completed a project in Japan, as there is a prominent Asian tone in her art, and also a cinematic feel, not unlike the Japanese film "Uzumaki" and the Korean thriller "Sorum".

New York Hotel Story is a window into the surreal, and will make you crave more of Nathalie's work, (not to mention how badly you might hope to see her direct a movie someday.) What pulls Nathalie's work to my heart is how it is a study of loneliness and desolation, desperation and uncertainty. We know it is not a perfect world, but New York Hotel Story reveals that the world is many different things to many different souls, and that we all keep pushing on, sometimes in spite of how hopeless it seems. If it seems like I have glossed over describing the actual images, it is because I am emotionally moved and ensnared by the book, and believe it should be experienced to be appreciated. It cannot be criticized or dissected because it is unlike anything you have ever seen before.

That said, I will explain the image that triggered me to seek out more of Nathalie's work and the book. "Room 1A" captures a woman with a sheer red skirt and white stockings floating amidst an aquatic environment that is neither the foreground nor background. There are goldfish swimming with the flow of her skirt. The image is cropped just below her eyes (but you feel them staring forward), and her toes peek out above the frame. There is coral and seaweed and the picture is open to a great deal of personal interpretation. Has she drowned? Is she dead? Is she haunted, or immersed in pleasure? Every single page of this book asks a thousand questions and every viewing offers another answer. "Room 1A" almost brings me to the brink of tears every time I view this image. This is the strongest praise I can give this book and Nathalie's work, as it represents so much more than a series of interesting pictures, it evokes deep emotional responses, and that is what art is supposed to do, but it has been a long time since anything this good has made such an impact on me. Buy this book, and thank Nathalie for sharing something so deeply personal and important with us! .

Terry Osterhout
April 2003

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