Remember the Poleroid Camera? For a brief period of time in the history of photography, they were the ‘must-have’ of the era – even my mother had one. Clunky cameras to carry around, but they gave instant pictures in the era before the mobile phone and digital camera took over. They provided an informality catching the moment, with a quality that was never as good as using photographic film and colours that had a slightly faded feel, and indeed soon faded if left in the sunlight. Photographs could be taken instantly, shown around and shared, or discarded and more taken, then consigned into boxes. Do you still have any at home. Mine have all gone.
If you still have any, Poleroids, are now a new art form, catching unique moments of that era. German film director Wim Wenders did keep his, many taken while shooting his films, and many now scanned and reprinted in a way that retains their original unique character for posterity.
Earlier in the year, The Photographers Gallery had the first exhibition of Wim’s Poleroids with an immense number of 200 hung in rows alongside extracts from his films. Now he is back at Blain Southern with his Poleroids from 1964-1984 at the original size and also enlarged, plus photographs. Many were shot on location of films such as ‘The American Friend’ and ‘Alice in the Cities’, with the Poleroids containing informal images of cast and crew while the photographs are grander set-pieces awaiting the actors.
“The entire Polaroid process (and procedure) has nothing to do with our contemporary experience, when we look at virtual and vanishing apparitions on a screen that we can delete or swipe to the next one. Then, you produced and owned ‘an original’! This was a true THING, a singular object of its own, not a copy, not a print, not multipliable, not repeatable. You couldn’t help feeling that you had stolen this image-object from the world. You had transferred a piece of the past into the present.” Wim Wenders