In her work Sensitometric experiment with Polaroid Minna L. Henriksson (b. 1976) asks if a camera can be racist. A lot of photographic equipment and color film has been designed primarily to photograph fair-skinned people, and Polaroid cameras even played a role in the racial politics of apartheid in South Africa in the 1970s. When the artist was presented with the opportunity to use a large Polaroid camera and new film, she explored their limitations together with a dark-skinned model.
Developments in technology and commercial applications are always influenced by the conscious and unconscious values and attitudes of inventors, sponsors and consumers. In photographic technology this is particularly apparent in the history of the color photograph. Product development primarily aimed to meet the needs of Western companies and white clients. In the production of film material and in commercial film development, materials were optimized to produce the best possible photographs of fair-skinned people. The standard settings had to be altered in order to capture a dark-skinned person successfully on film.
This work of art was created when a large-scale 20x24″ (50 x 60 cm) Polaroid camera was brought to Finland by Impossible Works in 2012. Minna L. Henriksson was one of five Finnish artists chosen to work with the camera.
The two-part work consists of a dye diffusion print and an inkjet print, and is part of the collection of the Finnish Museum of Photography.
The Finnish Museum of Photography
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