Allie Tsubota

Bathers Interior is a short film exploring the racial and sexual valences of Asian/American desire and assimilation. The film reproduces a minor scene in the 1964 psychological drama, Woman in the Dunes, directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara during the Japanese New Wave. The film features a protagonist (the eponymous “woman in the dunes”) intimately hand-bathing her captive companion. Shot at close range, the scene is one of several sexually-charged moments between the two protagonists, but it is the only one that introduces the visual language of “bathing.”

Bathers Interior proposes a meditation on desire and disappearance as they are replayed on the site of racialized skin. The film casts skin as a site of contestation between interior and exterior–as not only a surface or bodily covering, but as a permeable membrane or interface between two subjects. The washing of skin appears as a symbol of cleansing or racial hygiene, but also as an act suffused with pleasure and desire. It probes the process of Asian/American assimilation (or dissimulation) as a profoundly complex and desirous negotiation of identity, longing and survival between the “self” and the “other.”

Allie Tsubota (she/her) is an artist exploring intersections of race, visuality, and the formation of historical memory. Her work joins photography, video, photographic and cinematic archives, and text to examine the role of visual spectatorship across racialized space and collapsed historical time. Tsubota holds an MFA in Photography from Rhode Island School of Design, and presently teaches photography at Parsons School of Design and The College of New Jersey.