Just before the deadline on July 6th 2012, we found this very cool co-creation project: Instant People. The rules for the project were simple: make a Polaroid with a self-portrait and send it to the initiators of the project: Francis Van Maele and Antic-Ham. We were just-in-time with our contribution and asked Francis to tell us a bit more about this inspiring photography project.
When and how did the Instant People idea come up?
Since many years we are doing Mail art. There it is very common to initiate world wide projects asking artists to contribute by mail to a given theme. In the last 15 years I must have organized in average one such project a year. In each case there would be a gallery on my website showing contributions. Sometimes we would organise small exhibitions also. Since 1 year we are very fascinated by Polaroid and started collecting cameras and making books with Polaroid photographs.
In january we opened a new website specially for Polaroid to sell cameras, books and projects. This was a good opportunity to initiate this project.
How would you describe the project?
We asked people to do their self-portrait with their Polaroid camera and send it to us, with information such as camera and film used, and their website or blog.
Was your own self portrait on of the first in the project? What was your idea behind it?
We had already hundreds of self-portraits from ourselves... even well before thinking about this project. As we bought many different kind cameras and tried out many different types of films, it was quite normal, handy and amusing to try them out by making a self-portrait. We made already 2 artists' books with Polaroid portraits in which we are the ones portrayed.
What goal(s) did you want to achieve?
We hoped to have a large participation from all over the world and make a gallery on our website and organise exhibitions. We wanted also during these exhibitions to make self-portraits performances. We presented the project during Documenta 13 in Kassel a few weeks ago and did a self-portrait performance over here. The interest was very big. We asked people to make their own self-portrait and add it to the project.
Did you achieve your goals?
Yes we are happy with the results. Both with the number of participants who sent pictures as with the interest during the exhibition in Kassel.
How did you reach out to photographers all over the world?
Through Polaroid forums, Flickr and Facebook we could reach many polaroid fans. We contacted also our mail art network.
Can you share a moment of amazement? Something that you had not forseen but was thrilled with?
Every day at lunch time, when Tony our postman comes, is the great moment of the day. We call him our Santa. Every day he brings parcels containing Polaroid cameras we acquired on E-bay... or Polaroid pictures people send us.
What is it with you and Polaroid?
Our work as Franticham (=me and my partner) oft is about our selves, autobiographical, diaries. Many of our books are personal. Doing works with self-portaits is very usual in our work. Polaroid is of course a marvelous tool for us. And as we are crazy collectors of many things, we could not stop with having just 2 or 3 cameras. Since one year we must have bought well over 200!! Now we started selling them, so we can can continue collecting them and sell some with profit and keep the best ones for our use or until they are sold.
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