John Brian King
Spurl Editions 2016
Nude Reagan (Spurl Editions, 2016) is John Brian King’s second book of photography. His first book, LAX: Photographs of Los Angeles 1980-84, was published by Spurl Editions in 2015. For his most recent book, King photographed twenty-three nude female models with a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 camera in an empty Palm Springs office space. Each model wore the same Ronald Reagan mask, striking any pose she liked. Deliberately unsettling, these photographs depict Reagan as a demon and specter haunting the modern world. Evoking the dead conservative president, the models wear the hideous dark-eyed mask anemic and wrinkled and morph into unerotic, freakish wraiths. The colors of the photographs accentuate these figures’ eerie qualities: the camera’s unpredictable flash turns the bland office backdrop alternately into a mold green, a muddy gray, a brilliant white, or a dense, all-encompassing black setting. The womens’ shadows are sometimes starkly present, and at other times disappear. King was influenced by such disparate sources as Conrad Veidt’s The Man Who Laughs; Reagan’s own frozen, Brylcreem-lathered countenance; artist Maurizio Cattelan’s sardonic approach to politics in art; and Ralph Eugene Meatyard’s Southern Gothic photographs of masked children.
JOHN BRIAN KING is a Los Angeles native who graduated with a degree in photography from the California Institute of the Arts. He designed the film titles for over thirty films, including Boogie Nights, Punch-Drunk Love,and The Ring. He wrote and directed the feature film Redlands, an examination of creativity and horror in relation to photography. His book LAX: Photographs of Los Angeles 1980-84 was featured in the Los Angeles Times, Slate, Impose Magazine, LCeil de la Photographie, Yet Magazine, It’s Nice That, AnOther Magazine, and more. Nude Reagan is available through Spurl Editions.