Essay
Fri 09 Feb 2018 - 12.00

A Young Person Recommends... Instant Stories. Wim Wenders' Polaroids

I've always thought that Polaroids were a thing of the past, and that they are only seen nowadays as an antique aesthetic possession, but as I entered the exhibition I was honestly amazed by the simplicity of the photos taken and how they were presented. The dim lights made me focus on the small Polaroid pictures (not any bigger than the palm of your hand), which rested on the wall. These pictures were the love and heart of Wim Wenders.

Before entering the exhibition I knew absolutely nothing about him, or what he did, but as I progressed through the space I felt as though I was traveling through the various parts of his life: what he admired and the beauty of simple moments in life. Wim Wenders is a film director and a photographer who took over 12,000 Polaroid pictures. Now, only 3,500 remain since he felt that the subject of the photograph deserved more right to the picture that he did, so often gave them away.

Wim Wenders himself said 'The meaning of these Polaroids is not in the photos themselves but in the stories that lead to them'. This is why I consider the pictures to be simplistic, such as the picture with a tomato ketchup sauce bottle and a cup of tea next to it. That picture makes me feel nostalgic as I can imagine my family and I sitting together and having a chat about the day, having arguments with my cousins whilst the small children play with their toys. To me, this is a scene that I would cherish, since it makes me realise that we have all supported each other, and that we are people that are similar and different at the same time.

I was able to see all of this through one picture of a sauce bottle. Maybe this is what Wenders wanted to portray through his pictures: that the stories of people's lives can be seen through the most unusual things that we otherwise wouldn't expect to see. Wenders saw it and he took a picture of it.

Overall the exhibition was an amazing nostalgic ride where I saw a picture not taken to show off or to post on Instagram, as we do nowadays, but I saw souls and experiences put into a physical form that people like me could relate to. Those weren't pictures I saw in the exhibition; rather I saw memories – the things that make us human.

– Celeste Dias