Currency - A Polaroid Portrait Studio

In Currency, a Polaroid® Portrait Studio, a camera is placed on a tripod, lights are set up, a white background and mobile set design clearly communicate: this is a photo studio. Clothed in a white suit, the photographer stands representing the lab-technician, the anthropologist, the missionary, the negative of the black suit of the Belgian market-place photographer inhabiting Marquez’ Love in Times of Cholera.

The photographer descends on public space to make people’s portraits. Only: a Polaroid® is a unique object. Who owns this copy? Is it the photographer’s (intellectual) property, of does it belong to the portrayed, whose image makes it possible? Are we the owner of our own image? Here, the photograph is given away to the portrayed, in exchange for a small commodity, which can be financial or not. A question can serve as currency.
The photographer has to deal with the inevitable loss of his pictures, with the possible futility of the effort to eternalise the present. The photographer has his book-keeping to keep a trace of moments passed. The register accounts for his work, it unites names of sponsors and questions deemed valuable enough by the portrayed.

The Currency portrait session is an attempt to connect, to communicate, within a photographic universe, a transaction of time of which both parties keep a trace. Currency is a research project on the value of photography, a tentative way to deal with the promises of photography, a decolonizing of the societal position of the photographer as a hunter of images, searching for a way to stand as equals in the studio.

Photo by Ine Hedrickx