= The Crawford Arts Review: Until Saturday 05 May

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Until Saturday 05 May

Polaroids were a happy way of framing a scene and instantly printing it out to check that the  composition had all of the desired features. In this Wim Wenders' show at Blain|Southern, Early Works: 19641984, the filmmaker and photographer took that little camera everywhere. Whether filming or touring, together, they visited France, Iceland, Australia, Algeria, Bali, Germany, and all across America. 

Plying that camera, Wenders shot what could be described as a road movie of stills, as one of the shots is entitled, a literal 'through the windshield'. Also on show are black and white  landscapes shot on 35mm film and some enlargements (new photographic prints). The original Polaroids, neatly stored in cigarboxes all this time, emerged perfectly preserved, and have been meticulously scanned and printed in the original dimensions.
Boy with ducks, Bali, 1978
Silver gelatin on Baryt paper
behind glass on Alu Dibond
courtesy of the artist

In the picture above, we see a little boy facing the oncoming traffic, including in this case the photographer's vehicle, as he drives his duckling flocks across the road. In the foreground, just right of centre, we have the sight of an alpha duckling striding across, presumably to lead the others, and, in front, a sentinel (or wayward) duckling stopping to examine the vehicle, his leading foot caught in mid-pivot as he swings round. How many photographers can coax such action from a flock of ducks?

Many of the road trip photographs are of suburban America  empty lots, liquor stores, roadside cafes with the shutters down  glimpsed from a vehicle on its way to somewhere else. The viewer sits in the privileged position of the photographer; we keep on moving, knowing these vast wilderness places are not somewhere we need to get off: our destination is The City, be it San Francisco, Hamburg or New York. Indeed, in a not dissimilar way, the viewer, standing in a posh Mayfair Gallery beautifully built by Caruso St John Architects, also shares the photographer's view: staring at scenes we will never otherwise know.
View from NY window, 1975
C-print  courtesy of the artist

And here is New York, in all her bemisted splendour, viewed from a window in a fancy hotel (see also NY breakfast 1973). These are the pictures that show you where the photographer ended up. 

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