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Katsu Naito at LN-CC

In a new exhibition, the Japanese photographer documents the streetwalkers in New York's meatpacking district in the early 90s

Held at cult east London boutique LN-CC following the success of Richie Culver's solo show, their next exhibition for July presents a collection of unique images by photographer Katsu Naito documenting the transvestite and transsexual streetwalkers of New York’s Meatpacking District in the early 1990s. Made up of 23 images - predominantly portraits - Naito intimately captures the unexpected beauty of the day-to-day lives of those in the iconic district. Observing his subjects carefully and without judgment, the New York-based, Japan-born photographer has perhaps truthfully captured the streetwalkers of all races and backgrounds, each with a different story to tell in the empty streets. We speak to Naito about his controversial subjects and of his future projects...

Dazed Digital: Was it difficult to capture the images on perhaps what might be a controversial subject back then?
Katsu Naito:
It was not difficult it just took time. For some people I am sure this type of image is a controversial matter. I was not worried too much.
 
DD: By observing what some would regard as the fringes of society, how do you think viewers will react or take from the exhibition?
Katsu Naito: As time passed the ways of seeing things has changed also. I am sure more viewers will accept this type of image(s)
simply because they are from the past... its was 20years ago.
 
DD: Do you see the exhibition as a documentation of your personal environment? / Why did you consider this as an important period to focus on?
Katsu Naito:
No. It was not my personal environment but I frequented the area back in the late 80's, I have lost several friends by Aids, I think this may have caused me to have such an interest in street walkers. mostly because of how they risk their lives to earn their living.
 
DD: When you captured these moments in time, you suggest that there is no judgement passed. Was this in favour of encapsulating a sense of honesty rather than opinion?
Katsu Naito: I visited the area a lot before I started to photograph them I wanted to get to know and understand them . We had normal everyday conversations, I found them very attractive as subject and grew to respect each one in many ways.
 
DD: What's next for you?
Katsu Naito: I am selecting negatives to print of Harlem where I lived 1987-1997.

The exhibition will run by appointment only from 22 July and 31 July 2011