Photoville—its definition as straightforward as its name—is a whole square of photo exhibitions cleverly housed by re-purposed shipping containers that takes place in New York annually.
Impossible Projects inspired me to come up with a strict and almost frightful task—take one full roll of polaroids for the entire Photoville experience. Let me explain further, that is ONLY 8 photos. EIGHT! No retakes. No bullshit. And an immediate and very physical artifact of something very good...or very bad! Fuck, I take 50 selfies in one sitting. I live in a world where provided with one subject, I can take iPhone photos, then several in many angles with my camera, and then a boomerang, a Snapchat, and an Instagram story. I, and along with my friends and maybe, you, too, don’t know what it’s like to be limited. To be sure. To trust that we can create the right image (or decision) right then and there. Or shit, the pressure of "you just HAVE to". So I took a deep breath and made my way to Photoville with a strange mix of anxiety, determination, and too much pizza the night before to take in this whole new experience…
Our Uber driver dropped us off about 15 min in the absolute wrong direction (totally my fault) but it became a blessing in disguise as my roommate and I romantically scrolled through the Dumbo waterfront and gawked at the ceiling to floor window condos being built right in front of it. Real estate dreams. And a nightmare for everyone else that lives in Dumbo as the height of these new developments breaks their views of the city skyline. As we walked by the strange sight of people on canoes floating merrily on the…imaginably…toxic waters, we quickly turned our attention to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. And you know why….BECAUSE. I. LOVE. ICE. CREAM. Okay, we note that we’ll have to come back and grab a scoop or two.
We finally arrive at Photoville and were quickly overwhelmed. Something about hundreds of photo enthusiast, handfuls of shipping containers, tourists, photographers, and natives that can really separate two people that came in together. And there was nothing wrong about that. We both took our own paths, weaving through many voices visually expressed through photos and print. I wanted to capture everything. But as I looked at the beautiful contraption delicately laid in my hands—the I-1 Analog Camera, I knew I couldn’t. I had to decide what story I wanted to tell. And strangely, that decision came quite naturally to the most indecisive human being ever. I decided that I wanted to share what it felt like, not necessarily what I saw.
Many themes festering within each container left me moved, left me provoked, and left me wanting to adopt a puppy (one artist took adorable photos of abandoned and ready-to-adopt dogs and puppies in the most adorable settings and get this…flowers crowns. We died). The New York Times dedicated an entire container to Bill Cunningham’s work. As you leave the decades of influential and brilliant style watching and photography, I also saw the classic blue coat that he wore…hanging on the wall. Another exhibit nearby featured many artists but had one very specific theme—black lives throughout America and throughout time. Others were playful, some political, yet all had a voice. I began to watch people. I enjoyed watching their eyes study the photos. I enjoyed how private they felt in their own self as they examined the art.
Along the way, I think the camera caught way more attention that I expected…being stopped in my tracks to answer some questions about the I-1 I barely knew the answer to. I’m excited to finally share the images I captured.
P.S: If you're wondering if we got ice-cream, the answer is "DUH!"
Written & Visuals by Lynn Kim Do