Farewell to Another Technology by Abraham Ravett
Contemporary Art at Historic Northampton
November 13 - December 20, 2015
Opening Reception, Farewell to Another Technology
Friday, November 13th 5 to 8 pm
Local filmmaker/photographer and Hampshire College Professor, Abraham Ravett, will exhibit a series of Polaroid SX-70 photographs he made during the 1980s and early 1990s. The exhibition combines descriptive landscapes, family portraits and hand made collages generated with Polaroid’s unique SX-70 technology.
When Edwin Land invented the Polaroid process and made it available to the general public in the SX-70 format, both amateur and professional photographers were exhilarated. This instant, color photographic process quickly generated gallery exhibitions, book publications, and print media including album covers, as well as the ubiquitous family album. Polaroid filed for bankruptcy protection on October 11, 2001. A few years later the company stopped making cameras and, in 2009, it stopped the production of Polaroid film. A photographic medium loved and utilized for three decades had disappeared.
During the late 1970s the Polaroid foundation supported Abraham Ravett as an Artist in Residence in the North End neighborhood of Boston, where he worked with the youth in that community to document their environment using the SX-70 film. One of the unusual features of the SX-70 print film is “its ability to be manipulated while developing, and for some days after.” Furthermore, “the emulsion is gelatin-based, and the mylar covering does not allow water vapor to readily pass, the emulsion stays soft for several days.” (Wikipedia.org) These unusual characteristics of the medium allowed artists to press and manipulate the emulsion, insert a variety of objects and images within the square frame and, thereby, create a collage surrounded by Polaroid’s unique color palette.
Abraham Ravett’s images pay tribute to this orphan medium. He situates the short-lived Polaroid process in the history of earlier photographic practices such as daguerreotype, cyanotype, tintype and ambrotype that, with rare exception, have also vanished. Examples from the collection of Historic Northampton will be displayed along with Ravett's Polaroid images.
Abraham Ravett was born in Poland in 1947, raised in Israel, and emigrated to the United States in 1955. A professor of film and photography at Hampshire College, he holds a B.F.A. in filmmaking and photography from the Massachusetts College of Art, and an M.F.A. in filmmaking from Syracuse University. Abraham Ravett’s photographs have been exhibited in a variety of galleries and educational venues throughout the United States and are profiled in a recent, self published photo book: Brighton Beach.
Throughout the 1980s, the Polaroid Foundation supported his yearly Hampshire College January Term workshops exploring the influence of jazz music on image making. All the Hampshire College workshops participants utilized SX-70 film.