Toy Camera Dreams: Photos by Robert Holmgren and Joe Reifer Lucky Juju Pinball Art Gallery -- August 1-September 3, 2008 713 Santa Clara Ave, Alameda, CA [Map] Opening Friday August 1st, from 7-10 p.m. The art show is free, play pinball between 6 p.m. and midnight for $10
Since 2005 nearly the only camera I've used is a cheap toy camera --the Holga. With a plastic lens, single aperture, and guessed focusing, I produce pictures that hope to triumph over these limitations. Whenever I'm asked why I take pictures with a cheap plastic camera I find myself giving an answer something along the lines of, 'Well, aesthetically I'm conceptualizing an alternative to the dominant form of image capture vis a vis the digital realm'. The reality is closer to 'I don't know', but the answer likely to be somewhere around same reasons that people fix-up old cars, brew their own beer or play the ukulele. It's low art with outsized dreams. For my purposes I busy myself with the simple practice of looking at the real world, imagining it as a photograph, applying the craft of photography, and delighting in what comes of that. Simple pleasures.
Looking backwards informs me of what tendencies were in play; I like form and volume, light and dark, I like objects that are known but in a unknown context, they're the product of walks. Each find is like a gift that could not have previously been imagined. They're available to anyone but often I have the exclusive visual record. It is a reminder of how slowing down and mindless observation is often rewarded.
I'm honored to be showing work alongside Robert Holmgren whose images I've admired for years. So why do I make panoramic soft-focused mundane neighborhood snapshots with holes in them? Because it's fun. Really, that's the best reason for doing anything.
These images were made by shooting 35mm film in a Holga, which normally takes medium format film. This arrangement is literally held together with rubber bands and tape, like most of life, really. Perforated by sprocket holes and sometimes developed in the wrong chemistry, the process includes an unusual mix of control and chance operations. And it's fun. I hope you enjoy the show! --------
About the Artists
Robert Holmgren is a photographer who lives in Menlo Park, CA. His first involvement with photography came during his time in the US Navy--the ship he was assigned to was homeported at NAS Alameda. Upon leaving he furthered his photographic knowledge at Southern Illinois University and the San Francisco Art Institute. For over 20 years Holmgren earned his living taking freelance photo assignments for national magazines. Some of his personal photography is in collections at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. Additional work can be viewed on http://robertholmgren.com or on the photo sharing website Flickr.
Joe Reifer lives in Berkeley, and is primarily obsessed with night photography. His body of night work focuses on temporary, obsolete, abandoned, and derelict sites. He also enjoys shooting mundane suburban neighborhoods in the daytime with toy cameras. An apartment with stone facing, shrubberies, a jet ski in the side yard – all become strange dream fodder embedded in a fuzzy snapshot. Visit Joe's website and blog.
Update: Mike Johnston picked up Robert's image over on The Online Photographer. Thanks!
Update: Here's a great interview with Robert Holmgren from last year on Chris Keeney's site.