Born in Los Angeles and raised between Oklahoma and Hollywood, Beau Patrick Coulon’s perverse work has been getting better and better. We first interviewed Coulon back in 2014 when he was about to have his first solo show at Nomad Gallery. In person, Beau Patrick Coulon exudes charisma and positive energy, something that comes through in his photographs– they draw you in immediately, and make you feel like you are right there with him in the pit, on a train, or a new country. His work documents a side of life most will never get to experience for themselves, in a way that’s both personal and timeless. Isn’t that the beauty of photography? Getting to take a look through someone else’s eyes.
We’re excited to know that Coulon is back in town and has a new zine and photography show to share for one night only. Terminal Impermanence opens this Thursday June 23rd in Silver Lake at Makers Mess from 7pm to 10pm. This is Coulon’s 2nd solo show in Los Angels; he’ll also be releasing the 3rd installment of his zine series documenting punx, trains, death, revolt, alienation, and loneliness. After Coulon’s one night only exhibit he plans to take this show on this road to travel and present his work to new audiences. Please enjoy our exclusive interview with Coulon as you take a look into his world….
Since we last saw you in 2014, you moved back to New Orleans, Louisiana. What’s been keeping you busy?
Traveling and making photos absorbs a lot of my time & energy, but I put an equal measure into social justice and working with people who struggle with addiction. Then there’s the less romantic and seemingly inescapable labor I do to survive on a daily basis. Put simply, I do a lot of shit work, but I don’t do it for shitty people. Most recently I’ve been super busy finishing the new photo zine, “Terminal Impermanence” and making prints and frames for my upcoming solo exhibit that is happening this Thursday back home in Los Angeles.
What was your trip to Thailand like?
It was weird. Thailand is in a region surrounded by recent genocides and hardship. Through passive relationships with imperial nations, they maintained some semblance of order and infrastructure while neighboring countries became literal living hells. This all shaped my experience as a visiting westerner in a way that I found difficult. I think I was probably stressing out too much over the historical effects of colonization in the region and what it means to be a white, male bodied, person from America there. I don’t know, maybe I never learned how to take a vacation.
Where are you planning to go next?
After LA I’m heading east, and up the coast to Maine for a short visit. But I really want to go to Antarctica, Africa, and South America. Not entirely sure in what order. Then I’ll have been on every continent.
Does it get harder to document your surroundings?
I make it harder than it has to be because I try to have high standards. I try to give more than I take. Sometimes I hear, “there are no rules in art” but I disagree, there are plenty of rules, but they’re all self imposed. For instance, I will readily break state laws to make art as long as my breaking those laws doesn’t create suffering, but I have strong aversions toward violating my own ethics. I try not to break my “personal laws” for art or any other reason.
How do you feel when you see other photographers at the same place as you?
Generally I don’t care. I just do my own thing. But when they’re blowing up the spot, or hogging space for a long time and preventing other people from doing their thing, then it’s pretty annoying. It’s usually people with crazy expensive gear who act foolish like that. I just laugh. You spent all that money and you still can’t get your shot? Move out the way! Fortunately, most places I like to shoot are illegal, remote, or aren’t really safe, so that cuts down on the traffic.
Does it affect your desire to shoot what’s going on?
Sometimes. Especially at shows when someone is firing their flash every 10 seconds. It’s distracting from the show and it bums people out. I always want to distance myself from that kind of scene. That’s why I shoot most shows on cheap point and shoots or disposable 35mm film cameras. It limits me, in a good way.
Since you’ve been shooting these last years how much has your negative collection grown?
It’s hard to gauge, but compared to a few years ago I’m shooting way more film. I have two big rubber tubs filled with negs, slides, and Polaroids that desperately need organizing.
Do you photograph the same people over and over?
I’ve shot a few friends numerous times, ones who can be natural in front of a camera, or are just fun to hang out with.
Can you share a recent favorite photograph you’ve taken and tell us why?
I like this photograph because of his expression, how he’s leaning to one side while the puppy leans to the other, his cool denim jacket, his strength, and how you can barely see his little thumb nail is painted red. I love how it all combines, how it tells the story of a boy I met briefly at a Calcutta pet market.
“No gods, no watermarks” why? What do you have against using watermarks? Hahaha
I think they’re tacky. None of the great photographers used them. Most of the powerful images I know, the ones I can’t forget, were shot by photographers I struggle to remember the names of. I like the idea of images having their own life away from the photographer. A big part of the allure of photography for me is the anonymity. A really great image will make you wonder, and with a watermark you never get that chance. Credit where credit is due is one thing, but I think photographers should focus on making great images rather than marketing their brand.
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We heard you have an actual book in the works, can you tell us about it?
Yep! I’m putting out my first photo book with San Francisco based, Silver Sprocket, toward the end of the year. It’ll be the culmination of over 5 years worth of my personal work. Still figuring out the design but it’ll likely be similar in style to my zines. Full color, full bleed, and image heavy. Not a lot of text and over-analysis, so the viewer can have their own experience. Keep your eyes peeled!
Last but not least, if we’re in your neck of the woods where can we find something good to eat, more importantly where’s the tacos?!
New Orleans has a lot of great food but isn’t known for their tacos. I’d go so far as saying that I make better tacos than anywhere in the city. if you come through, find me, I’ll hook it up.
But if you want some unexpectedly good and affordable eats in New Orleans I’d check out Kukhnya, they have killer polish food.
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