Photographer Thomas Dozol Is All Mirrors, No Smoke

It’s hardly etymologically surprising that the word “privy” refers to both a secret and a toilet. Beyond its obvious scatological associations, the bathroom is the one domestic refuge that remains invisible. Nevertheless, the bathroom is all about vision, mostly of oneself in the mirror. It’s a place of control; it’s where you prepare yourself each morning to face the world. But it is also a room fraught with confrontation, where you strip down and surrender to your own bodily remainder. It is certainly not the idyllic backdropfor a portrait. Which, of course, is why 34-year-old photographer Thomas Dozol seized upon the bathroom as the site of his recent series, Entre Temps.

“It started because I was looking to do a portrait series but I could find one that felt honest because people are too self-aware now,” Dozol explains, citing the ubiquity of small-format digital cameras and event photography. “They are too much in control when they are getting their portraits taken. Then I looked at my own face in the mirror. I hate when I get flushed after I drink red wine or take a hot shower. I realized the thing I didn’t like about it was that I was no longer in control.”

The French term entre temps translates literally to “times in-between,” and his pellucid color photographs reveal a fleeting instant where the subject, captured in front of his or her bathroom mirror. The Paris-born, New York-based Dozol began the series three years ago, and each time he shoots his subject after they’ve taken a long, hot shower to recreate that moment where a person has lost the control of the color and texture of his or her own skin. It’s Dozol’s belief that this in-betweenness, photographed with a Hasselblad camera and using only natural light, reveals a facet of personality that disappears when his sitters are assembled, dressed, and ready for a world of camera lenses.

The present exhibition, Dozol’s first solo show in New York, presents some 30 selections from Entre Temps, capturing bathroom mirrors and shower curtains from Brooklyn to Athens, Georgia, from Paris to Berlin. Some of the just-from-the-shower faces are rather famous—Michael Stipe, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jake Shears—as their star personas temporarily fade into a camouflage of unembellished skin and quotidian routine. Ultimately, Entre Temps turns on the limits of intimacy (some subjects are naked, others marooned without glasses or contact lenses at their sinks) and the lingering question of whether or not we like what we see when no one else is there.