This exhibition proves that a photo doesn’t have to be a final, finished object – it can be a starting point for painting, drawing, collage or sheer, joyous destruction. Photos have been submerged or burned, scratched, scribbled or stitched on, cut up and put back together. Each one gives the viewer a new way to frame the world, revealing hidden truths in unexpected ways. A selection of works that explore the meanings and potential of instant photography as an ever-evolving art form. Photos which reveal the beauty of instant film’s unique limitations, then question, disrupt and deconstruct these limitations.

ANDREA POZZUOLI

Born in 1984 in Milan, Andrea Cicala Pozzuoli lives and works between Milan and Como. He graduated from the School of Art and completed his studies at the Italian Institute of Photography in Milan. He has exhibited at exhibitions and trade fairs across Italy and Europe. ‘Lisergica’ is a work of 30 instant photos, with collage intervention. These pictures create a dreamy, hallucinatory atmosphere, giving life to oneiric visions borne of the free flux between imagination and sensation. Floral and animal subjects weave together with human anatomy and symbolic elements to tell a decadent story about ephemerality. It’s a step in a new direction for Pozzuoli, who for a long time has made a career in digital, hyper-realistic work – now moving into a more artigianal approach with image making. Leaving behind the technical rules and the hyper mimetic realism of Pozzuoli’s digital works, ‘Lisergica’ shows the beauty and fragility of its subjects in a romantic and decadent way, working with the inaccurate and faded character of analog instant film. It’s a move from perfectionist digital production, full of particular, to a technique with uncontrollable shot parameters and much less of a chance for intervention. The photographic set construction is still the primary characteristic of Pozzuoli’s work, in this case with the use of collage sketches. The editing process leaves the digital world behind and becomes manual – a multitude of fragmented images, cut and placed on an instant photo to create a composition.

A look at what can be achieved when you step outside the original white frame, to capture more than just a moment in time.

CHRISTOPHER MANNING

Christopher E. Manning (b. 1983, New York) has an MFA from SUNY New Paltz and a BFA from Manhattanville College. Manning is the Exhibitions Coordinator at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, as well as a Professor of Visual Art at Manhattanville College. His work has been exhibited at The Parlour Bushwick, BK; Garrison Art Center, NY; Exit Art, NY; Dorsky Curatorial Projects, LIC, NY; Central Booking, NY, among others. Manning lives and works in Yorktown Heights, NY. My work deals with a largely autobiographical excavation of the self, with interest in duality and fragmental storytelling through visual representation. The instant photos convey a sense of contemplation and nostalgia, allowing the viewer to connect on both a personal and aesthetic level. Set in a state of flux, each work presents a teetering of truths and lies, light versus dark, and all passages between life, death and rebirth. The cumulative narrative comes to represent a portrait of what shapes us, while embodying the deluge of all that was forgotten or surplus to existence. This is achieved through the literal physical excavation of an image, which often includes cutting through caustic layers to reveal what is hidden beneath the surface. This consists of source material found in and collaged from my collection of vintage art history textbooks, 1970s Playboy Magazines, botany handbooks, The New York Times, fashion magazines, National Geographic (1970s – early 90s for the best saturation), 1800s etiquette guides and quite often more Polaroid/photographic images I’ve taken but the list is endless. These images come to represent the undercurrents of what exists in the subterranean self.

JACOB SPRIGGS

Jacob Spriggs is an American visual artist raised in central Minnesota. In 2012 he received his BFA in Studio Art with an emphasis on Printmaking, as well as a double major in Art History from Saint Cloud State University. In 2014 he relocated to Olympia, Washington, in search of new surroundings / people in pursuit of a broadening artistic practice. Working with Polaroid instant film and the collection/appropriation of found photographs, his work blurs the lines between a diary and the fictive. I am interested in photography and found images as a way to reconstruct memories, landscapes, and portraits. The documentation of events with my Polaroid cameras and the accumulation of journals, magazines and miscellaneous photographs has manifested into a collection of experiences, both my own and foreign. This collection is then broken down, dissected, and reassembled through an integration of painting, photography, and collage to create disembodied nostalgias. For the ‘Infinite Fields’ series I was focused on triggering the next exposure of the film. Development of emulsion is alchemy in the works, so I entered into the series with an alchemist’s mindset. An incision on the bottom of the film opened the instant photo into a three dimensional object of captured time. From there I soak them, fill them with various oils and liquids, manipulating from the outside shell after the inside has broken down enough, while adding paint occasionally. After that, time and chance take their roles in developing the photos, many continuing to develop to this day. 

URIZEN FREAZA

Born in Tenerife, Canary Islands in 1982 and based since 2010 in Berlin, Urizen Freaza is a self-taught photographer and film-maker. Self-taught meaning that this is a path he is still walking. While hoping there is always more path to walk. To say that an image consists of many layers sounds obvious. But fact is that instant photography has an extra layer: the physical one. Even more than film, instant photos are objects that you can hold. When you see an instant photo you know the photographer, and most likely everyone appearing in it, touched it. They passed it around and looked at it and reacted to it. Right there, as part of the process. It’s a fetish in the animistic sense of the word. The power of instant photography lies in the delivery of a full object where all layers are crushed together: the subject photographed, the emotional state and associations of the photographer when setting that framing, the light hitting on its sensitive surface, the chemical layers crystallizing and reacting to conform the image, the emotional state and emotional baggage of the viewer… all together crushed into one entity, that is so true, so real that you’re actually holding it. The goal would be to blend all those realities, to intervene with all of those layers at the same time and, as much as possible, to describe the truth.

WISSE ANKERSMIT

Dutch artist Wisse Ankersmit uses the analog collage technique to reproduce moments of the past. By combining images found in old magazines he mixes these moments of the past to create new ones. Often playing with the boundaries between reality and imagination, to create a surrealistic scene. I had quite a lot of failed instant photographs stuffed somewhere in my room. I decided that I might as well combine my collages with my instant photography. What I like most about combining my collages with my instant photography is that to me the end result can still look a bit like an instant photograph, even though you can see it’s not. Plus it gets an extra dimension, as it’s a nice technique to involve the frame with the whole image. 

‘Instant Art’ opened at The Impossible Project Laboratory on Nov 17 and runs through Dec 3 2016.

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