Jeremy Kost is a tireless chronicler of gender, sexuality, and nightlife. Born in Corpus Christi, Texas, he now lives and works in New York City, though he regularly travels the world to capture images, whether they’re of male models in the Californian desert or drag queens strutting through Pittsburgh. Strongly influenced by Warhol, both in his choice of subjects and technique, Kost extends the creative potential of some of Warhol’s favorite tools – the Polaroid camera, silkscreen processes, and more. In Kost’s work, Polaroid images not only serve as the basis of silkscreen paintings but are massed together in elaborate, multilayered photo-collages.
In May 2012 The Warhol partnered with Hugo Boss to present a solo exhibition, Of an Instance, featuring Kost’s work in New York City. Friends with Benefits, the artist’s first solo museum exhibition, opened at The Warhol in December of 2012, also with generous support from Boss.
Kost has also exhibited internationally including solo exhibitions at Conner Contemporary Art,
Washington, D.C.; Galerie Nuke, Paris; and his forthcoming exhibitions at Galerie Charlotte Moser in Geneva and Angstrom Projects in Dallas. His work has been included in numerous group exhibitions including State of the Art – New Contemporary Photography, NRW Forum, Dusseldorf, Germany; “Mie: A Portrait by 35 Artists, Freight and Volume”, New York, NY; “RE:DEFINE”, The Goss Michel Foundation, Dallas, TX; “Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven”, Bureau of Open Culture/ Columbus College of Art & Design, Columbus, OH; “Bunny Redux: Contemporary Artists Interpret the Iconic
Playboy Bunny”, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA; “Dress Codes”, International Center of Photography Triennial of Photography and Video, New York, NY and many others. Kost’s recently released his first monograph titled “It’s Always Darkest Before Dawn”, published by powerHouse books in collaboration with BookMarc and is set to release his second book, “Oh! U Pretty Things” in the Fall of 2013.
Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall
Curator’s Essay by Eric C. Shiner regarding “Not a Play Area”, 2007
Beauty and poise in all of their many guises are ever-present in the photgraphs of Jeremy Kost. So, too, are their polar opposites–those traits that they long to cover, eradicate or depict–ugliness and insecurity. The two binarisms go hand-in-hand, much like a dark queen peering into her mirror and questioning the perceived beauty of her reflection, the delicate poise she has practiced again and again. And in Jeremy Kost’s Polaroids that capture the underworld of New York City’s club scene, the “other” world of fame and celebrity, and indeed, the exalted world of beatiful go-go boys and sideshow freaks, the queen in the image is not necessarily that of Walt Disney’s doing, but instead an outlandish persona who represents the beauty and ugliness in us all. Kost’s Polaroids become the ultimate Warholian mirror of that which we desire, that which we fear, and that which we will never be.
And in just the same vein as Warhol, who rarely left home without his trusty Polaroid camera hung ’round his neck, Kost inhabits the realm of the modern day club kid, the glamorous drag queen, the young starlet and the rock n’ roll jet setter as though he were one with them, no matter their stripes, no batter their extremes. As though a social chameleon flung off the wall, Kost melds with his surroundings by building trust with his subjects–telling them with a smile or a nod that they are indeed the most beautiful of all. The repertoire he builds with his chosen models presents itself in each intimate portrait that he captures with the push of a button. Whether a celebutante veiled in a puff of cigarette smoke or a drag queen checking her make-up in a compact mirror, the figures represented in Kost’s photographs are real, yet at the same time completely fictional. They force us to question aspects of fantasy, privacy and facade. They force us to look into the mirror, and decide for ourselves who we are and who we want to be. They make us question our own beauty, at times confirming our domi-nance, at others exposing our flaws .Jeremy Kost’s powerful images, it seems, are the perfect conduit for these self-examinations. For him, beauty lies only in the eye of the Polaroider.