22nd November 2017
I finally made it to The Photographers’ Gallery in Soho. Two floors were taken up with Instant Stories, but for me that was great as I love instant photography and have done ever since I was a child when I longed for a Polaroid camera.
Put a science exhibit in front of me and I can tell you exactly what’s right and what’s wrong with it. But with photography I feel unqualified to comment sensibly on any exhibition. On anyone else’s art all I can do is give an opinion based on feeling rather than any developed ideas about it’s strengths or weaknesses. So all I can say about this is that personally I loved it. I love the colour of the polaroids, I love the style of them. They have so much promise, and represent something far more precious than a digital image or film negative as they are so unique. Little moments captured forever that can never be copied in the same format and that you have to get very close to to really see. But the images themselves were arresting despite their size. Some are very clearly stuck in my mind even now, two months later.
I also loved the writing presented with the images; that was a really important part of the exhibition for me.
There were quotes from Wenders’ book, and to me they were very powerful and meaningful. Two TVs were displayed side-by-side showing film of Wenders taking Polaroids, and it was interesting to me to watch my own reaction to that film. It made me think a lot about my own personal history with the medium of photography and how elements of that still affect the way I choose to use photography now.
Financial constraints when I was a child meant that I never had a Polaroid camera, and although my mum had one her use of it was limited by the cost of the film. So certainly in my experience I don’t remember there being that sense of fun abandonment around polaroids that Wenders talks about. The same is still true for me now. Although I now have a polaroid camera, at £13.99 for 8 monochrome shots I think about the way I take each one much more seriously than I do when I’m using film or digital.