It was a great night for fans of the photobooth as the Musée de l’Elysée’s long-awaited exhibition opened to the public, with a packed house of hundreds of photobooth enthusiasts, photography buffs, historians, artists, and others filled the museum’s three floors and kept the photobooth in the cafe running non-stop.
I saw a lot of familiar faces in the crowd, some of whom we’ve known for years, others just a few days. It was great to finally meet Marco Ferrari, as well as Les Matons, Helene and Christian, all of whom have been invaluable sources of news and information for the site. It was also great to see Igor again, in a meeting as brief as our first one, last year in Paris.
I arrived in Lausanne yesterday and made my way straight to the museum for the opening walk-through and “friends of the museum” reception. The show is terrific; I saw everything over the course of the night, but didn’t examine anything in detail, saving it for today or tomorrow when I’ll have more time. I also forced myself not to bring my camera, which was the right move, because it meant I actually got to talk to people instead of worrying about what I was and wasn’t taking pictures or video of. I met many of the artists whose work is in the show, and was happy to see our old friends Danny, Nakki, and Anthony and Andrea. It was also a pleasure to meet the wonderful staff of the museum who have put together a brilliant show, and who have been so helpful as I’ve worked on the text and video.
Rob and Anthony have whipped the photobooth into beautiful working order, and all of the guests at last night’s event had a blast taking photos.
The show is certainly a big event in Lausanne, with lots of press coverage and these great posters all over the city:
I’ll be doing interviews with artists today and the opening reception for the public is tonight. All photobooth all the time!
The photobooth show has now gone live on the front page of the Musée de l’Elysée website, and an extensive press kit for the show is now available for download. Check it out to find out more about the show, the artists, and the museum. Additionally, good news for photobooth enthusiasts around Europe: the show will be traveling to Brussels and Vienna later on in the year.
We were thrilled to receive a copy of the catalog for the Musée de l’Elysée show yesterday, a few days before the show opens to the public. I have to say I was taken aback when I saw how substantial it was; I don’t think I was expecting something quite so massive, more than 300 pages in length. It is an absolutely gorgeous piece of work.
The partially transparent slipcover has an image of a photobooth curtain on it, and, when removed, it reveals a bright orange hardbound cover with the same text as on the slipcover embossed directly into the fabric. It has to be seen to be appreciated, and is the sort of tactile detail that reinforces my unease about the transition to digital books.
At first glance, the catalog is an impressive balance of text and images, with many iconic pieces well represented, from Warhol’s silkscreens to the Amélie–inspiring scrapbook of Michele Folco, from Dick Jewell’s found photos and André Breton’s self-portrait, as well as recent work by Danny Minnick, Marc Bellini, and others. I haven’t gone through it with a fine-toothed comb, but I look forward to discovering some unknown examples of photobooth art as I read it over.
The entire catalog is in French, and it’s quite something to see one’s work written so convincingly in a language one doesn’t speak. I thank the skillful translator for transforming my brief essays on photobooths in film into a nice-looking chapter near the end of the book.
The curators and scholars involved in putting this exceptional work together deserve hearty congratulations, and have created a work that will add immensely to the available body of knowledge about photobooths in history, art, and culture. Bring on the show!
We’re just over two weeks away from the opening of the Musée de l’Elysée’s major photobooth exhibition, and the official announcement has just gone out. We’re posting it here in its full version, and then zoomed in a bit so you can read the text.
The card features artist Gillian Wearing’s 2003 piece “Self Portrait at 17 Years Old.”
We’re excited to see many names we recognize, many people we count as friends, and a number of artists and photographers we’re not familiar with, as well. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone there.
We’ve just covered the appearance of Jack White on “American Pickers” as he said goodbye to the booth used in the video for the song “Hang You from the Heavens” by his band The Dead Weather. One of the other members of The Dead Weather is Allison Mosshart, who’s best known for her work in her band The Kills. She obviously shares an affinity for photobooths with White, as she and Jamie Hince have used photobooth pictures on at least three of The Kills’ releases: “Keep on Your Mean Side,” “Fried My Little Brains” and “No Wow.”
In an interesting confluence of events, just a few days after the Dead Weather booth appeared on television, The Kills have released a video for their new single, “Last Goodbye,” set in a photobooth. Actress and director Samantha Morton directed the video, and spoke about the video for Nowness:
After being sent a live performance of the track, Morton prepared a treatment referencing an Allen Ginsberg book, the works of Robbie Miller, Jack Clayton’s The Innocents, and photo booths. “I miss the quality of a ‘real’ photo booth—nowadays everything is so cheap and quick,” says the star of such films as Minority Report and Control. “The track felt incredibly nostalgic; the same way I feel about the machines.” Unbeknown to Morton, the photo booth is central to band members Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince’s ten-year partnership: the pair seek out the devices when on tour to record their travels. But Morton managed to renew the experience: “Samantha has this crazy way of inviting you into a fantasy world where you don’t feel stupid or awkward,” he says. “She had dramatic classical music that she’d play instead of our track. It made you perform completely differently. There’s a beauty and magic in it that I could never have imagined.” Here Morton reveals her nostalgia for photo booths and love of monochrome.
Where did the photo booth idea come from?
I liked photo booths and I missed them. I love the fact that when you used to go to a photo booth, sometimes you used to have wait a good 20 minutes. Sometimes, I remember, if they were really crap, you’d have to wait forever. You’d go off for a cup of tea and you’d come back to get your passport pictures. Also, it was quite expensive when we were young. It was a real treat. Now, it’s still expensive, but you just get these horrible images of yourself that won’t last in the same way. The song was incredibly nostalgic and I think that made me feel nostalgic.
Watch the video and see the “real” photobooth for yourself.
Tune into the History Channel on Monday, January 9 to see what happens when Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz (otherwise known as the American Pickers) pay a visit to Jack White and Third Man Records (seen above, with not one but two photobooths). According to this piece on Paste.com, the guys try to tempt Jack with a taxidermy elephant head, in exchange for the photobooth used in the Hang You from the Heavens video he made with his band, The Dead Weather.
Watch a preview for the episode on the Third Man YouTube Channel.
UPDATE: You can watch the episode on the History Channel website here.
The new year is nearly upon us, and it’s just two months to go until the opening of photobooth exhibition at the Musée de l’Elysee in Lausanne, Switzerland. We mentioned the show here back in September, and in the intervening months, we’ve been working on our contribution to the exhibition, and hearing from others in the community about the show. If you’re a fan of the history and art of the photobooth, it’s safe to say that it would be a good idea to find a way to make it to Switzerland between February and May of next year.
From the museum’s website:
When the first photobooths were set up in Paris in 1928, the Surrealists used them heavily and compulsively. Within minutes, and for a small price, the machine offered them, in the field of portraiture, an experience similar to automatic writing. Since then, generations of artists have been fascinated by the photobooth concept. From Andy Warhol to Arnulf Rainer, Thomas Ruff, Cindy Sherman and Gillian Wearing, many used it to play with their identity, tell stories, or simply create worlds.
The show includes over 300 exhibits and brings together different media — oil paintings, lithographs, edited films /videos and screenings — revealing the extent of the influence of the photobooth within the artistic community.
I’ll be attending the opening, and I look forward to meeting some of the other artists, historians, and enthusiasts who will be in attendance, as well as old friends from the community who will be making the trip from the U.S. and elsewhere in Europe. We will report back on the show for those who aren’t able to make it. Let us know if you’re coming and we’ll make a point of meeting up in snowy Lausanne.
We’re sorry to be a little late on this, but if you’re in Paris, you’ve still got one more day to catch it: the Photo-Off Festival is taking place in Paris, and Marc Bellini has a series of photobooth photos on display.
The event is a collaboration with La Joyeuse de Photographie, who provided the photobooth, and La Bellevilloise.
Barbara Kent, one of the last living silent film stars, passed away last week at the age of 103. She starred in films directed by William Wyler and Leo McCarey, and acted alongside such screen legends as Greta Garbo, Edward G. Robinson, and Harold Lloyd. One of her lesser-known claims to fame is the fact that she starred in two of the very first films to feature a photobooth, Lonesome (1928) and Welcome Danger (1929).
In both films, the machine takes a single photo which it returns in a small circular frame; in the case of Welcome Danger, the machine isn’t even really a booth, but still features the same technology and returns the same end product. Of course, the film is a Harold Lloyd comedy, so something manages to go wrong in the process…