Despite the fact that the majority of the art world was heading south to get toasty in Miami at the prestigious art fair, Art Basel Miami Beach, the opening of Diego Uchitel’s “Polaroids” at Milk Gallery on December 4th 2012 was a jam packed avalanche of gorgeous, stylish, and tall people. Milk Gallery openings are always more of events rather than exhibition opportunities. Out of the main window David Bowie’s photograph stared at the collecting line outside, enticing the gawkers. The celebrity photographer’s personal treasure trove of mementos, inspirations, memories were about to be revealed and I was more than ready to delve in.
As much as I hate the divide between the days prior to and post our little internet phenomenon of social media and communication dominated by Myspace and Facebook, I can’t help but agree with its relevance in our modes of communication today. So when the artist made a comparison of his Polaroids to a time prior to Facebook, the depth of each photograph weighed in with individuality. There is a certain sentimentality that becomes attached to images when you realize that you cannot obtain them virtually, that you must get ahold of the original and go to the length of cutting it out by hand, wedging it safely between book pages, or God forbid, making a Xerox copy.
Falling in Love with Polaroids Over Again
Without delving into what the essence of a photograph is, or what the essence of a Polaroid is, it is undeniable that a captured moment is an imprint of time. And time holds with it preciousness. In his artist statement Uchitel mentions the magical of a Polaroid, the way it can soften a darkness. The alluring fades and shadows of the small images capture the intricacies of moments. His collection spans thirty years and hundreds of faces. On that wall, sinister and laughing, smug, serious, and forever beautiful were the glorified etching of the celebrity world, but to Uchitel they were just colleagues and friends. From Sarah Jessica Parker, Julianne Moore, Denise Richards, Jessica Stam, Quentin Tarantino to David Bowie and many more. Hand-picked images were printed out large scale so that the intricacies of the “damages” were visible, and photographs became objects.
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