Chicken Madonna (Chicks and Chicks and sometimes Cocks)
Time stands still (Chicks and Chicks and sometimes Cocks)
Stefanie Schneider is a German-born Polaroid artist, who is currently based between her lovely dream-lab factory in Berlin and Los Angeles. Many of you will know her for her work with instant photography, Stefanie is one of the oldest Polaroid artists (her career started 20 years ago, 1996), and she has collaborated with a bunch of International musicians. Stefanie also works with film. In 2014 she released a feature film that includes six other films: “Hitchhiker”, “Rene’s dream”, “Sidewinder”, “Till death do us part”, “Heather’s dream” and the feature film “The Girl Behind the White Picket Fence”. A defining trait of all these films is the use of still Polaroid images in succession and a voice-over. Characters talk to themselves about their ambitions, memories, hopes and dreams. Schneider also appears as herself in a documentary film by Willem Baptist – “Instant dreams”.
Your images are very poetic. How do you choose to photograph your subjects? Do you just meet people along the way and propose them to be in your Polaroids? What is your process of finding the subject and the surroundings that go well together and make a whole image? What does inspire you the most in taking these shots?
Thank you. My subjects are mostly friends, hardly ever strangers as I need a bound, a connection which is already established. The stories are deeply connected to my personal life. I follow the path of serendipity with photography. Ideas are endless. A plethora really. Shooting the absence of a solution can be the whole idea or a story too. There’s never a shortage of concepts. Documenting what we take for granted and throw away. A soft, light dream, exploring emotions and amplifying imperfection as the last true love is the foundation of my repertoire. Captured tragedy.
Your Polaroids have been used for artistic covers by bands like RHCP and Cyndi Lauper. Is there any special artist you haven’t worked with and you would like to photograph?
Yes, well, it could be anyone but first there must be an inner beauty and a clear understanding that we’re fighting for our very lives. Without passion, it’s pointless at this juncture.
There has to be something worthy to capture.
For example, Natalie Portman who has used her power to talk about the abuses of industrial food production and is a vegan. That’s important to me. She thinks and feels and acts. I’d love her to hold one of my chickens for the “Chicks and Chicks” series.
Victorian Falcon (Chicks and Chicks and sometimes Cocks)
Let’s imagine, there is just one last pack of expired or new formula film on Earth, and it’s in your hands to decide what to do with it. Tell us, what would Stefanie Schneider create through it?
I actually do this on a regular basis with each pack of real Polaroid film. First I determine how expired it is because there are phases of possibilities of what you can do with it. Ways to expose it that are not “conventional”. For example, getting around dead film batteries, hardened chemicals and still making it work. That’s the beginning. Then a story, what would I capture? It would be of things that will disappear in the near future. Things that are taken for granted, things that will vanish and only live on as a memory or dream. What else is worthy? Forever as my testimony.
White Trash Beautiful (29 Palms, CA)
Do you have any advice for a beginner on shooting with a Polaroid Camera?
Ya. I’d say you missed the boat. The formula was lost.
The search to replicate that chemical formula has been going on for ten years and still counting. They’ll never be able to do it.
When I started in 1996 to use Polaroid professionally I was at the beginning of my career. Broke but having fun in Hollywood. At the time the Polaroid material was at it’s best, dirt cheap when bought expired. The camera accompanied me on projects and private parties and the result was magical in almost every picture. The only thing that remains is the frame. The “Context” I call it. It’s a metaphor for an exhibition I’m doing in Joshua Tree, California, next month. Simply, uses the instant film frame. It allows the “shooter” to tell their story, using the frame of inside, outside. The frame represents the Context of the story inside the frame but the story outside the frame is even more important. As a parting gift, I offer a real souvenir Polaroid frame to take with them and use in their own future photos. The story is no longer in the frame but outside it. Show that.
Max at Pool (29 Palms, CA)
What’s your opinion on exhibiting Polaroids in galleries? Do you think it’s a niche type of art being exposed to curators, galleries and the public?
Ask Warhol, Adams or Araki, the list goes on. I don’t simply exhibit Polaroids. I shoot Polaroids but that’s just the beginning. I then curate and choose, tell the story and enlarge and replicate the perfection of the original images by hand in my analog laboratory in Berlin, Germany. Every work to me has it’s perfect size to “fit” into the context of the exhibition. The storyline flows, the pieces relate to each other. The exhibition becomes the perfect narrative.
Airstream (29 palms, CA) 1999
Chicks and chicks dated:
Victorian falcon, chicken Madonna, 2016
All above will be shown at next Bombay Beach Biennale in March