Four years after the release of “Fractured,” artist Jeremy Kost has returned with “Isolated but Not Alone,” a book of Polaroids celebrating uncensored male beauty. The book, which includes more than 200 photos shot over the last 10 years, will be released Tuesday and showcased at the Untitled Art Fair with ACRIA during Art Basel Miami Beach.
“First and foremost, it felt like it was time,” says Kost, whose most recent release was a book of oil-painted Polaroids of drag queens, “Like One of Your French Girls.” In the four years since “Fractured,” he notes his Instagram following has increased from 20,000 to over half a million. Instagram factors largely into the messaging behind his Polaroids.
“We’re in a digital moment where everything is high-contrast, high-resolution, high-color; everything we put out is with this visual punch. And here, the work that I made for this book, the paint becomes that. And the image of the boy becomes the muted dreamlike image,” Kost says. “So it kind of becomes a reverse of what my Instagram is, of what Instagram as a whole is. And the paint sort of takes that position over.”
Kost does not believe in showing full frontal nudity on Instagram; instead, he feels that should be reserved for “the most sophisticated context,” like a book or exhibition. He identifies a “construct” in the media around male nudity as a launching pad for his work’s discussion.
“I find it really interesting — and it’s a challenge with some of the people that I photograph — that as soon as a male is photographed in his underwear or nude, it’s automatically perceived as a gay image. And I’m intrigued by that question, and a little troubled by it, to be honest,” he says. “The work isn’t really about the sexuality of the subject at all. I’m really intrigued by this question of why the gaze of a male projected in a sexual, vulnerable way is automatically considered gay.”
The collection’s title comes from the experience of producing the images. “Generally the subject and I are in places of relative isolation with no phone service, and we’re clearly not alone, but we’re definitely isolated,” Kost says. “It’s kind of an esoteric idea but I think it also goes back to the notion of where we are as a society today. We’re hiding behind our phones, we’re isolating ourselves even in the company of others. You think about how many times we’re at a dinner and there are five phones on the table. We’re creating this self-isolation for ourselves through everyday existence.”
“Isolated But Not Alone” is available for purchase at http://www.jeremykost.com.
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