Nicholas Muellner’s most recent image-text book journeys through shifting tableaux of exile and solitude in the digital age. Seductive, disorienting, informative and allegorical, In Most Tides an Island is at once a glimpse of contemporary post-Soviet queer life, a meditation on solitude and desire, and an inquiry into the nature of photography and poetry in a world consumed by cruelty, longing, resignation and hope.
This work emerged from two very different impulses: to witness the lives of closeted gay men in provincial Russia, and to compose the gothic tale of a solitary woman on a remote tropical island. Along the way, these disparate pursuits – one predicated on documentation, the other on invention - unexpectedly converged. Shot along Baltic, Caribbean and Black Sea coastlines, distant landscapes met at the rocky point of Alone. From that vista, they ask: what do intimacy and solitude mean in a radically alienated but hyper-connected world?
In Most Tides an Island challenges photographic and literary conventions, collapsing portraiture and landscape, documentary and fiction, metaphor and description into the artist’s distinct form of hybrid narrative. This shape-shifting work is threaded together by the voice of the wandering narrator and the unexpected visual echoes between these far-flung landscapes. A mysterious stream of faceless but expressive online profile pictures further links the divergent stories. These anonymous figures serve as an emotional semaphore, signaling across genres and geographies and between language and image.
Nicholas Muellner is an artist who operates at the intersection of photography and writing. Through books, exhibitions and slide lectures, his projects investigate the limits of photography as a documentary pursuit and as an interface to socio-political and personal narratives. Often focused on a queer experience of the post-Soviet world, his work transforms descriptive accounts into literary dramas, autobiographical reflections, and philosophical inquiries. He received a BA in comparative literature from Yale University and an MFA in Photography from Tyler School of Art, Temple University. Muellner is Associate Professor of Photography and Co-Director of the Image Text MFA at Ithaca College and the ITI Press.