Three weeks into Satomi Shirai’s first solo exhibition in Europe “Home from Home”, it seems visitors don’t always agree with Shirai’s artist statement.

Satomi Shirai views her work as an attempt to create photographic images that translate the assimilation processes of outsiders in a new environment, and the physical and psychological changes they experience. Originally the artist intended to document her own life as a Japanese person living in New York, but soon achieved the transformation of her images into symbolic, partly surreal works, which speak for anybody who’s also experiencing their own personal integration in a foreign country.

Shirai takes close-ups of doll houses, dismantled and put together again the wrong way, to talk about the incompatibility of certain habits, customs and points of reference in a new environment, a neat analogy for a theme so close to her heart.

Shirai never mentions the inherent eroticism, which is always subtly and innocently present. But it’s precisely this eroticism, which attracts viewers to her work and leads to a desire to discover more about the many allusions and reminiscences the artist has worked into her photographs. For example, the air humidifier that reminds us of the manholes in New York’s street canyons, or the Greek newspaper casually hanging over a folding chair, and the book on Oscar Wilde, whose very sexuality led to a life in transit and death in exile.

Irrespective of which detail is noticed first, it’s always just the beginning of an extended dialogue with the picture. While one viewer may get upset, another is magically drawn into Satomi Shirai’s slightly chaotic New York world.