Ashley Frutiger BFA Thesis Fall 2011


I am a legal drug dealer. By this I mean I am certified by the state of Oregon to serve alcoholic beverages. Right now I bartend at a high-end, Vegas style club. My inspiration for this topic is influenced by the ridiculous and offensive displays of human nature I see on a weekly basis at the nightclub I work in. I am interested in the behaviors and interactions of patrons within the space of the nightclub in an attempt to understand why they have come to act so indecent in public. I hope to reveal the true nature of these institutions, my role in perpetuating this behavior, and the consequences on society.

By using photographic media and techniques, I am challenging the current photography of nightclub culture, and exposing the underbelly of an alleged glossy scene. So, I ask myself some questions: Why do people hump each other in public? Why do people need a sanctuary to go and get hammered on god knows what, intermingle with one another and act like animals trapped in a cage? Surely, this can’t be human nature, or is it?

Working in a nightclub has given me insight into a whole other side of the industry I never knew, or at least cared to know about. Now, I remember going to the club when I was younger. I got all dolled up with heels so high that I could barely walk in them sober, let alone trashed from drinking all night. My friends and I strutted around trying to get noticed by guys, dancing under heavily lit LED imitating a psychedelic trip.

Then the night starts to fade into the morning, after the bar closes and a trip to Taco Bell ensues, you make it home somehow, and really have no recollection of how you got there. “Did I drive? God I hope not! Cab?” I look into my purse for any clues as to how I arrived home, and of course I find a totally empty wallet. This is strange since our main goal was to make the poor loner men at the club buy us drinks. They of course hoped to get ‘some’ after a night of being teased by dry humping on the dance floor. As I greet my inevitable hangover, I take some aspirin, get some brunch, and hell, before too long it is Saturday night, time to do it all again! This debaucherous and potentially dangerous narrative is not untypical for normal society. In fact, clubbing has become an integral part of our culture. The Industry now yields millions of dollars a year and supplies millions of jobs across the globe. It has become an important part of our economic infrastructure. In fact right now, it is the only Industry that has not been annihilated by the current economic decline our country is facing. Some bartenders are actually making more than educators.

There is a gap between the way media portrays party culture and how it really exists. The media’s perceptions are superficial, and are intended to manipulate people to think clubbing is glamorous, fun and without consequences. However, there are dark corners that they intentionally conceal, thus creating a façade for the industry. People perform for the camera with shiny smiling faces, people huddling together to form a tight knit group of friends, laughing, drinking merrily and dancing the night away.

37 albums

Fall 2011