Brazilians are a passionate people, not afraid to show their bodies or express their sensuality publicly. However, promiscuity, homosexuality, and other non-typical relationships remain in conflict with the conservative values that run through the country. Adding further difficulty is the fact that a large proportion of the population live in small, over cramped houses where finding privacy is a real art. Enter: the love motel.
These ‘romantic escapes’ can be found all around the country and can be rented out by the hour, with alluring names like Red Love; Stop Time; Exótico; and Alibi. They’re usually surrounded by high walls but are visible by neon signs shining brightly on the side of motorways, in business districts, and even in the middle of shopping centres. There’s all you could want for a quick tryst: anonymous in-room food service, ceiling mirrors, toys, jacuzzis, and sex chairs.
Vera Van de Sandt and Jur Oster travelled to Brazil in 2014 around the time of the annual carnival, and set to work with only natural light, a Rolleiflex 2.8 GX camera, and a small carbon tripod. They’ve managed to capture the rooms’ singular atmospheres, letting the authentic details and lighting speak for themselves. They spoke to anyone who would listen about the love motels, including strangers, taxi drivers, motels’ staff, and even fellow passengers on a boat trip through the Amazon; collating stories and opinions alongside the pictures taken.
The resulting photo book provides an interesting and unique insight into this cultural phenomenon, with pictures of the outsides of the motels, the beds, toys and bathrooms, opening up an otherwise unseen world to people all around the globe. An exhibition of the work is currently showing at Amsterdam’s brilliant Volkshotel.
Vera Van De Sandt and Jur Oster’s Love Land Stop Time: Capturing Brazilian Love Motels continues at Volkshotel Amsterdam until 9 September.