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Exclusive: Ryan McGinley’s New Polaroid Originals Project

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The Polaroid appeals to professionals and amateurs alike, thanks to its immediacy and the raw yet familiar images it produces. The camera is a testament to our love of the analogue and the physical that it would have such a lasting impact in the digital age. Debuting here, exclusively on CR, a new project by Ryan McGinley recalls the nature of this format through a new generation of image-makers handpicked by the artist himself.

Titled New Originals, the project symbolizes the passing of the torch as each of McGinley’s artists are given their own spotlight to shine. Featured in a forthcoming exhibit and limited-edition zine, the roster includes New York photographers Hunter Abrams, Rochelle Brockington, Sabrina Santiago, and Myles Loftin, as well as the Philadelphia-based Marcus Branch.

“The Polaroid format is what opened the door for my photography and creating relationships with the people I photographed,” explains McGinley, who used the camera for his series The Kids Were Alright, 98-03. “With it, the moments you have and connections you make with who you’re photographing can be even more impactful than the one shot you have.”

What is perhaps the most interesting aspect of New Originals is the ways in which each photographer interprets their equipment. McGinley’s artists have a diverse body of work that aren’t necessarily Polaroid-based. Abrams, for example, is an artful documentarian, capturing everything from street style to protests in editorial-like images. Meanwhile, Santiago, shows a bit of grit in her images, whether they be stylized shoots or portraits of New Yorkers themselves. Branch is particularly gifted at capturing portraits both in his fashion work, as well as his lifestyle photography. Brockington and Loftin are both known for the subjects that their portfolios feature: the former views size-inclusive fashion photography that is wildly colorful and beautifully lit, while the latter explores race, youth, masculinity, and the intersection of these identities.

Countless artists have found inspiration through the humble camera, including Andy Warhol, who famously shot still life objects as well as his famous friends, and Guy Bourdain, who artfully put Polaroid photos into his work, creating a surreal effect. The New Originals exhibit and zine is a fascinating way of modernizing this type of photography, and hopefully with McGinley’s help will continue to inspire a new generation to take more analogue photos.

The New Originals exhibit will open in New York City on December 6, 2017.

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