In my project, Instant Classic, my collaborator, Shane VanOosterhout, and I have been sleuthing and acquiring anonymous Polaroids circa 1960-2000. Discarded photo albums, shoeboxes packed with forgotten snapshots; images lost beneath decades of clutter. Years ago, our subjects showed up for a Christmas party, a romantic encounter, 10th grade geometry. Responding to cues from what we perceive in these Polaroids, we add poignant and humorous phrases from our personal journals and recent conversations – inner thoughts we imagine the individuals and their observers may be thinking and feeling.
Friends from childhood, we grew up a block apart from each other – simultaneously following and deciphering the codes of preppy suburbia. Irony and sarcasm were our preferred secret language – this is how we buffered our tender, emerging identities against what we perceived as the winds of deadly conformity. Looking in the rear view mirror in our 50s, we aim to give an empathic and humorous voice to our subjects, just as we wished someone in the outside world would have validated us.
For Gen X kids, the Polaroid SX-70 was a magical device, producing an on-the-spot tangible photo which recorded a heartbeat of time. With the push of a red button and a synchronous buzz, the moment became evidence. In today’s digital universe, we remain transfixed by the Polaroid camera’s clever design and the vibrant memory-object it leaves behind. You can see more of my work with Shane on our website at www.lizandshanestudio.com