Mr Polaroid & Ferry van der Nat. Van der Nat worked for many years as a make-up artist and began to document his surroundings through Polaroid shots. Recently his approach has evolved into a more formal and sustained engagement with this flexible medium, and ‘Mr. Polaroid ’ showcases the exciting middle ground between backstage and the studio. The resulting images are a focused yet suggestive moment in time, pushing the viewer to confront sexuality head-on.
This collection certainly pushes the viewer into uncomfortable territory. A sense of constricted space is created by the large size of the prints; as if the viewer were frozen at eyelevel somewhere between the camera apparatus and the naked subject themselves. Van der Nat experiments with gay cultural stereotypes, amplifying them in number to a nearly exhibitionist degree. But who is the exhibitionist? The subject or the photographer?
‘Mr. Polaroid’ compares the face, full of erotic potential, with the straightforward, unflinching depictions of the nude lowerbody. While Van der Nat’s subjects stare down the camera, inviting the viewer to return the gaze, the more private and most sexual images become anonymous, even objective through an emphasis on shadow, contour and frontal framing. ‘Mr. Polaroid’ captures the smallest details over and over again: patterns of hair growth, the curve of the thigh or buttock, a chiseled jaw and sulking eyes, and yet through his artful timing, Van der Nat balances between moments of humor and drama.
This first exhibition by Ferry in Paris is taking place during the Men’s Fashion Week in the gallery of Jules & Jim Hotel. In partnership with the Ravestijn Gallery (Amsterdam). From the 24th to 29th of June. (via Jules & Jim Hotel, photocredits; Ferry van der Nat)