A Panoply of Artful Disguises on Giant Polaroids
Introduced in 1948, the Polaroid camera was a thrilling invention: it spit out the finished pictures mere seconds after a photograph was taken. A 1977 model weighing well over 200 pounds was capable of producing photographs measuring up to 20 x 24 in. Then came the ascent of the digital camera, and the Polaroid Corporation filed for bankruptcy in 2008. No more than five specimens of the heavyweight studio camera survive today, and the matching instant film will soon be out of stock.
In 2017, the artist Thorsten Brinkmann (b. Herne, 1971; lives and works in Hamburg) was offered an opportunity to experiment with the last remaining large-format color Polaroids at Studio Supersense, Vienna. On an improvised stage with carpets, planks, and curtains, Brinkmann donned the attire of a king and struck a variety of imperious poses. Assistants operated the monstrous camera, producing 50 unique staged photographs titled Se King—director’s shot. Brinkmann usually takes pictures of himself using a self-timer, but these works are reenactments of self-portraits the artist conceived and elaborated in his studio in Hamburg, which is to say, portraits. The one feature they have in common is that Brinkmann is always masked so as to obscure his face and identity. His photographs debunk iconic representations and poke fun at the classical tradition of portrait painting.
The book, with an essay by Matthias Harder, presents the complete series of 50 Polaroids.
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