Art is often the byproduct of turbulence. For local artist/musician Ates Isildak of Sagittarius Aquarius and previously The Band in Heaven, turbulence bookmarks his work. A 2013 New Year's theft of his guitar gear prompted a transition into video work. More recently, an invite by Kismet Vintage to participate in their "Polaroid Pop Up" coincided with the end of a long-term relationship and thus kicked of a serious exploration of the Polaroid as a medium.
"I was invited to be involved before I had ever even taken a Polaroid," Isildak tells PureHoney. "I bought a camera, threw a small party at a friend's studio, and there was a bit of a Warhol Factory vibe going on. Everyone was just dressing up or doing make-up for everyone else. My only vision was that I wanted the photos to be up-close, bright, and shiny."
The work — intimate in the immediacy of instant film — is hypnotic and reminiscent of a bygone era of cinema. His prints, whether staged or not, recall production stills of underground guerilla filmmakers of yesteryear. Isildak's vision can be compared to the nostalgic palette of filmmaker Panos Cosmatos but with the good weirdnress of music videos that stick with you over the years.
In his solo show at mtn space, "Ates Isildak: Pantransitions," Ates Isildak juxtaposes the hefty weight of images shot with a Polaroid camera alongside digital prints that experiment with manipulations of color.
The work, inspired by gender identity exploration, is the result of introspection after a relationship that ended. "I realized I really hadn't asked myself certain questions about sex, sexuality, identity, or expression in a long time," he says. "Exploring all of that internally I was drawn to people that were also exploring those ideas in their own lives, in their own art. So that started it all, and that thread has continued, though it's mutating to explore anything that feels like 'otherness.'"
Separation of church and state is also thematically on display as Isildak, of Turkish lineage, sees parallels between the regression of Turkey and where The U.S. is potentially headed as secularity gives way to religious incursion into government.
Now that he's incorporated Polaroid film into his work, Isildak has gained — or rather regained — a sense of artistry that digital photography has overshadowed, and gained access to close-knit circles like the Submission fetish parties where he frequently shoots.
"I have notcied that people respond to the cermera and the photos in such a reverential way," he says. "If I'm at a party or event and I ask someone if I can take their photo with my Polaroid camera, it's such a different response that I get compared to when I have my digital camera with me. I leave a night of Polaroid shooting with 8-16 prints, as opposed to 200-300 digital shots.
Also on display will be his film collaboration with artists Roger Jackson, Kevin Laurore, and Akia Dorsainvil, "Fabulous Muscles," an unsettling view of beautiful people on display through the lens of a sleek product video. Isildak hopes it creates a positive dialogue regarding the power artists wield over the idolatry of beauty.
"Ates Isildak: Pantransitions" at mtn space in Lake Worth from Saturday, September 16 through November 4. Opening night features a performance by Night Foundation, artist Richard Vergez's electronic project.