Last Polaroid Show Statement

Manipulated polaroids of Mark D Roberts and Denise Rouleau outside of Como Conservatory

Capturing the Flora, Fauna and Architecture of Como Park’s Marjorie McNeely Conservatory by Denise Rouleau & Mark D. Roberts

We entitled this body of work “The Last Polaroid Show” because it looked as though it would mark the end of manipulated Polaroid photography as an art-form. What makes the Polaroid SX-70 film so unique and enjoyable to work with is that once the exposure is made and the sheet ejects, the film dyes are like wet paint and can be exaggerated and distorted with simple stylus tools, resulting in surreal and impressionistic images. The Polaroids are then printed in sizes up to four feet square on a metallic coated paper that enhances their luminous quality.

We have visited many places with our Polaroid cameras, but with its seasonally changing color palette and strong architectural lines, the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in St. Paul Minnesota has become our favorite location to shoot. We were in the midst of our project when Polaroid announced it would cease production of the film.  We suddenly had to make some tough decisions on how we would use the remaining precious sheets of film. While we were drawn to the film’s unpredictability, which can produce some breathtaking results, we were now too well aware that its volatile nature can also lead to entire packs of unusable film. In many respects it was a good exercise, compelling us to be extremely thoughtful about how we shoot, especially when digital photography has made it so easy to click away until the perfect image is captured. We also recognized that it was just as important to experiment and take chances, appreciating that it may be our last opportunity.

The Last Polaroid show was exhibited in the Bonsai Gallery at Como Park’s Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in December 2009.