Andrei Tarkovsky was one of the most influential Soviet film makers of the post-war era – known for films such as Zerkalo, Offret, Andrei Rublev, Stalker, Nostalghia, Solyaris and Ivan’s Childhood – however I’m here to write about his magnificent polaroids which he took in Russia and Italy between 1979 – 1984. Apparently he was given the camera by the great Italian director, Michelangelo Antonioni, and although he was most known for extremely long, slow takes he took to the instant image making camera and in turn transferred his aesthetic into these pictures.
As well as taking personal snapshots of his family he used the camera for work often taking shots of possible locations and on and off set pictures. The images are beautiful, fragments of narratives, of dreamscapes, a memory captured, the light diffused, timeless. In a book of the pictures Tonino Guerra had this to say:
Tarkovsky often reflected on the way that time flies and wanted to stop it, even with these quick Polaroid shots. The melancholy of seeing things for the last time is the highly mysterious and poetic essence that these images leave with us. It is as though Andrei wanted to transmit his own enjoyment quickly to others. And they feel like a fond farewell.
Tarkovsky died of cancer in 1986 at the young age of 54 and these polaroids represent some of his last image making which makes them all the more poignant. They are a diary of sorts, a dialogue in images, a visual testament to his family and his work. As Ingmar Bergman said of him:
Tarkovsky for me is the greatest [director], the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream.
Yes, life as a reflection, life as a dream. I think you’d agree that these polaroids resonate in the same way. Anyway if you’re in Dublin between 26th July – 11th September, 2013 you’ll get a chance to see them yourself in an exhibition called ‘Andrei Tarkovsky Polaroids’ at The Douglas Hyde Gallery. More details later on in the year. In the meantime enjoy them.