Allegories of an Exile – Paul Kaiser

We all have demons, those skeletons in the closet, that sneak up on us and can make us react in the most peculiar ways.  For some they will try and understand, for others they will only scratch the surface, as it may be too hard or incomprehensible for them to take in the feelings that are stirred.

Paul Kaiser decided to face his demons by completing a 2 year journey around the South California desert armed with a Polaroid camera.  Now you might think that anyone can just head out with a Polaroid camera, and the law of averages will mean that they will get at least a few good shots, but Kaiser decided to make his self enforced exile that much harder by using chocolate Polaroid film.

Polaroid chocolate 100 is one of the rarest films made, and was accidentally created through a combination of Polacolor ER negative and Polapan 100 positive and reagent. This unintended combination produces a result where the silver from the colour negative transfers to the BW positive and the colour dyes in the negative “stain” the BW positive. This results in a chocolate brown image colonisation (cooler in tone than sepia) and unusual suppressed highlights not unlike 19th Century albumen prints.  The deep shadows can solaris at times, producing an effect like no other photographic process. The results are stunning but the film is near on impossible to work with.  The film is temperamental and the pictures can under or over develop easily.

What this film does give you is a photo with a retrograde feel, making even the most modern of subjects feel almost timeless.  I love how the exposure of this film really picks out the white and allows the darkness to absorb.  It has lent itself so well to Kaiser’s journey of self discovery.

Polaroid ceased production of film in 2009, and chocolate film 100 was made on a limited run, which there is a a dwindling supply and the majority of it is damaged so this portfolio is amazingly unique.

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There is very little written by Kaiser on his journey, but it is clear that the meanings of each picture are so personal and almost cathartic in their content, yet each one I look at has a personal and completely different meaning to me as the audience.

The title of the portfolio indicative of his journey, pushing himself to face his demons in a self imposed banning from his native home to project his feelings and emotions in this tremendously powerful selection.

It’s been quite hard to find out exactly when this was completed, but I can say it will be within the window of 2008 – 2014 which is when I can find the first noted display of the pictures in the Marcus Contemporary Art Santa Ana.

Kaiser is a veteran of the Army and Navy, most recently serving in Operation Enduring Freedom as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Diver. The steady hands that worked with bombs now create art in various mediums- drawings, paintings, film and photography, and perhaps it is this background which penetrates the pictures which display hauntingly beautiful images of death, isolation, sex, religion and travel.

I completely admire the way in which Kaiser has openly displayed his journey, not in the hope to make others understand, but more to allow him to move on.

If you want to see more of Kaiser’s work you can find it here which I highly recommend that you do.

What do you see in “Allegories of an Exile”?  Why not tell me in the comments?  Like this post?  Why not share it?

Want to see more of what inspires me or what I am working on?  You can find me on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram by searching WidowCranky.

Always wondered about a piece of art?  Why not ask me if I know about it?



6 thoughts on “Allegories of an Exile – Paul Kaiser

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  1. Was just told about this article… thanks for the nod. I bought up every package I could, had a few hundred packages of type 100 and type 80. All shot between ’13 – ’16 when I ran out of good film. The stuff is pretty much done at this point. I have a couple hundred shots that were usable and good art merit. I recently finished a gothic styled film where these polaroids are in the miniature sets. site should live by Wednesday.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Photos were shot between ’13 – ’16 when I ran out of usable film. Had a few hundred boxes of type 100 and type 80. ended up with a couple hundred good photos both in quality of film and composition. You can see them in a miniature gothic film set in a couple days.

    Liked by 1 person

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