Polaroids at Exp12

This exhibition of Polaroids included three artists. Shown in a small white gallery in Berlin, hints of the former uses of the building peeked through. The remains of a ceiling rose, the seat of tile stove. The display was minimal, long wide frames, the matting large surrounding short strips of Polaroids. Their small size and large settings reduced them and focused the viewer on the precious minute squares of colour, they demand a strong relationship with the viewer who must peer into them. The lines of photographs suggest film, building a relationship between the pictures. Narratives and juxtapositions. The subjects are everyday. Living rooms, spaces out of windows, gardens, and people. The subjects are transformed by the colours and the “flaws” of Polaroid. They seem to glow with saturation but simultaneously there are wonderful muted colours.

Instax cameras seem to be stepping into the gap left by Polaroid. The instant film seems to have a throw away aesthetic, but they also have a radiance about them and an interesting treatment of colour. They produce unique images, they are one offs.  They can work as sketch pads for photographers, serious but not serious, a medium to experiment in and with. I was reading the Patti Smith book “Just Kids”, clues to Mapplethorpe’s use of Polaroids. Its importance to him. A simple camera, the immediacy, the cost of film focusing his eye, and its role in his development.

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Filed under July 2011, Thoughts

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