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December 3-30, 2016

Coagula Curatorial 974 Chung King Road | Los Angeles, CA 90012 (323) 480-7852 |


Déjà vu T

here’s a romance that comes with a Polaroid camera. For many people, the boxy cameras—with their plastic frames and retro appearance, and that mechanical whirr-clunk of the ejecting picture—were what captured their childhoods, one square, now-yellowed image at a time. Today, the cameras are kitschy links to the past, curious novelties that perplex the iPhone generation; or, alternatively, the camera of choice for hipsters who brag about their old-timey shaving kits and Smith Coronas. Yes, Polaroid the company has seen better days and is still fluctuating somewhere between endangered and extinct, but a number of artists are still using the instant cameras to create mesmerizing one-ofa-kind artwork that is transcending the format nearly 70 years since its creation. One such artist is Sarah Elise Abramson, a Los Angeles photographer who has taken the Polaroid camera and given it fresh life

Abramson gets her film from the Impossible Project, a company that scooped up all of Polaroid’s machinery and photographic equipment when it went bust in 2008. They are helping keeping the format alive, for which the artist is grateful. “There’s such an instant gratification to it,” she says. “It’s awesome to watch the image appear. It takes me back to being in the dark room.” This show will mark a significant return for Abramson, who was in an accident on the set of a short film she was directing this summer. “I fell from 15 feet up. Broke both kneecaps, my left elbow, cracked my jaw, bit through my bottom lip, chipped my tooth. It was pretty bad,” she says. “Not being able to use a camera was killing me. I get irritable if I can’t shoot often enough. It’s a very meditative experience for me. I just get into that zone and I feel a huge relief come over me, like I just did yoga or something. I realized then that I’ll be shooting until the day I die.” She’s all healed up and not wasting any time getting back into the swing of things. For Déjà Vu in General, she will be showing the 200 Polaroid originals as well as enlarged reproductions and a book with the same title. Works in the show include Astrid, featuring a nude female on a square slab meant for cannons at a military fort, and Brennan as a Daydream, which is part of a photo collaboration with French photographer Sarah Seené. Abramson chose the word “daydream,” photographed this picture, and then sent the word to Seené to offer her own interpretation—a photographic call and response. On the next round, Seené chooses a word and Abramson responds. They call it I’ll Be Your Mirror. Abramson, who studied under the great David LaChapelle—he has since called her the future of photography—is excited to show her work, but admits that she’s hesitant to let her works go out into the world. After all, Polaroids have no negatives. It’s not like she can make new prints. “These are my negatives. It’s my entire body of work,” she says. “They’re like a part of me.”

inside her evocative, cerebral and hauntingly beautiful images. Her new show, Déjà Vu in General, opening December 3 at Coagula Curatorial in Los Angeles, will feature more than 200 Polaroid images that she whittled down from thousands of images she’s taken over the last decade. “I learned photography on an all-manual Minolta 35mm—I learned depth of field, aperture, shutter speed, all that. The next couple years I only shot 35mm until my parents bought me my first Polaroid camera before Polaroid shut down,” she says, adding that she quickly branched out into new kinds of films and photographic processes. “I was shooting on 600 [film], but then I got into Time Zero, this really cool film that has this awesome blue hue to it. It’s really rare now. Polaroid film is so unpredictable, which is what I love about it. Sometimes it’s a bummer when the image doesn’t come out at all. But you end up really appreciating the magic of the film.”




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