Polaroid, despite the demise of the great corporation, remains a highly respected name, evoking innovation, utility, creativity and quality. In the photography world, Polaroid has only the finest connotations, and the bankruptcy of the corporation has rightly been viewed as a tremendous loss for the field of artistic expression. Photographers were deprived of a creative laboratory that was unparalleled in the medium’s history.
The story of Polaroid is fascinating and instructive on many levels – industrially, technologically, artistically, economically, culturally and socially. There is even a military aspect. It is a story of brilliant marketing and salesmanship, but also a tale of complacency and blindness in the face of digital competition, and dismal management after Land’s demise. But in its heyday Polaroid was loved by millions of amateurs and embraced by countless professionals. Families recorded their lives; fashion and portrait photographers made tests with it; scientists used it for notes and records; while artists found it to be an exceptionally malleable and expressive medium.
It is our intention to produce a wide-ranging exhibition encompassing all aspects of Polaroid photography, including the technology that made it possible, and to simultaneously publish a serious study of Polaroid photography that will contribute to the understanding of Edwin Land’s outstanding invention on each of the levels listed above, something that has not been attempted in the past.
Number of works:
Several hundred pieces, to include artworks using the full range of Polaroid papers and films, and covering art production from the 1940s to the present. Prototypes, models, experimental films and papers, technical drawings and related materials will comprise the technical side.
The MIT Museum, Cambridge, MA, is a co-producer of the exhibition, along with WestLicht Museum for Photography, Vienna.