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Adrienne Raquel - ONYX

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168 pages
Photograph(s) by Raquel Adrienne
30 x 24.5 cm
Language: English
Publisher: Damiani

In ONYX, photographer Adrienne Raquel explores the intensity and escapism of the nightclub experience, documenting the power of the performers at Houston’s famed Club Onyx. Raquel’s photography is usually editorial, with high-power celebrities as her subjects. Her work has broken glass ceilings for Black female photographers. Now, for this passion project commissioned and exhibited at Fotografiska New York in 2021, she has turned her lens towards a community of underrepresented artists in her hometown.

At Club Onyx, strippers step on stage displaying their bodies, strength, and seduction, but there’s a virtue to this particular space. “They don’t get naked” is a common idiom to describe the club’s ambiance. Performers there take the word “stripper,” and negotiate what that means to them, on their own terms. From powerful images of the dancers mid-movement to detailed shots and intimate portraits, Raquel’s striking images put the divine beauty and compelling energy that enlivens Houston’s nightlife on full display. She also takes viewers behind the scenes, giving us a window into the community the dancers have built in the privacy of the locker room.

Photographed over the course of 2020, ONYX displays the empowerment and inclusivity in strip clubs that society has ignored. As captured by Raquel, the night club experience is revealed with layered meaning — granting the chance for these performers to be seen as elevated as the culture they influence.