Nicknamed the “Polaroid Artist” of the NYC party scene, Jeremy Kost’s new book jumps across the states to LA to document the drag revolution through an instant viewfinder.
While fashion seems to be following the digital movement, Jeremy Kost is an old school photographer at heart, favouring the instant art of white bordered Polaroids. A well-known face on the NY circuit, partying with celebs and models (oft seen with “his girl” as he calls him, Andrej Pejic), Kost’s shots are unstaged, honest and show a good time! His new book, It’s Always Darkest Before Dawn revolves around the lives of several drag queens and is being debuted at BookMarc in LA and NY. The drag movement in LA has been building in the after hours and with momentum. Forefront figures such as stylist-come-designer Love Bailey, is one of the contemporary voices of the scene and hosted the LA launch party for the book. But don’t distress if you missed it, the NYC release bash is on 16th June, followed by a signing at BookMarc on Bleeker Street.
i-D Online talked to Kost about the impending death of the Polaroid, his LA muses and after hours after parties.
When and how did you first get into photography? It’s a bit of a long story, but I hit on this guy in Philadelphia around 2001/2002. He and his boyfriend at the time eventually became my best friends. Pedro (the boyfriend at the time) had a Polaroid camera and one night I decided to take it with me while he was working coat-check at a fantastically sleazy bar in the East Village called The Cock. The camera became a way for me to interact with people. Having come from running the largest party in Washington DC (with two partners), to knowing nobody in the city, it was initially a social tool for me.
Why Polaroids? It just sort of happened that way. After doing it for some time, I really fell in love with the medium for its rich textures and the way that it forces you to compose the photograph in a very specific way. Now, the work has become all about pushing the medium as much as making traditional Polaroid photographs. In the new “collage work” (where I layer multiple Polaroids), it becomes about abstraction as much as composition. The Impossible Project has begun the crazy process of making the film again, but it’s becoming a scary reality that the existing Polaroid film I’ve held so dearly is running out.
Why LA for the book launch? There seems to be a bit of a drag revolution over there? I wanted to do something in the “key markets” of creativity. So we did the initial book release here in LA, and we’re off to NYC and The Box on June 16th. In both NYC and LA we’ll be doing book signings of an exclusive collaborative edition made with BookMarc (the Marc Jacobs company bookstore) which is pretty exciting! I think LA is having a really interesting moment. I see a new birth of creativity coming from stylists like my friend and new Jed Root member Brett Bailey, and party promoters like Luke Nero, who is behind Mr. Black. That new creativity is helping incredible new characters, like Edward Vigletti, to be nurtured and come up in the ranks.
What inspired the book? It comprises a selection of my work with nightlife characters in both spontaneous and more constructed images. The subjects include both famous NYC nightlife fixtures like Amanda Lepore and Ladyfag, and lesser-known subjects from as far as Pittsburgh. We treated it as a book about artists, more so then a “catalogue” and I think we’ve succeeded quite nicely!
So you’re having the after parties at The Standard and The Box…? Yes! At The Standard tonight in fact! I write this interview from my room at the hotel. It’s going to be a super crazy day but exciting. I created a new, 120″ long collage titled “The Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Hollywood Style)” which is being installed in the lobby of the hotel. I’m also projecting three of my video works in the lobby and in each guest room of both the Standard West Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles for the next month. It’s all really exciting but a bit overwhelming. It’s really important to say though, that this work couldn’t exist without the amazing characters that inspire me consistently with their creativity and their genius.
It’s Always Darkest Before Dawn is available at BookMarc, Melrose Place, LA and BookMarc, Bleeker Street, NYC.