Made it over to the Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn this weekend for EXQUISITE FUCKING BOREDOM, Polaroids by Emma Bee Bernstein. This is the second show of Bernstein’s photography that I’ve been able to see. (She passed away in 2008, at the age of 23.) Both shows have been curated by Phong Bui, who here had access to more than 200 Polaroids from Bernstein’s personal archive and private diary notebooks. Unlike with the photography in her last show, An Imagined Space (Janet Kurnatowski Gallery, 2011), where the photographs were not Polaroids, but were blown-up prints, the photographs here are impervious to any aesthetic angle I might approach them from. Instead, I find I’m nonplused, and my feeling is of implication, insinuation. Trespass. It’s not a sense that what I’m viewing was not meant to be seen, but, rather, it’s the unexpected seeing of myself. One does not lose oneself in Bernstein’s photography, one finds oneself there, and we’re not always prepared for that. If we can base the success of an art on whether we are better off for having seen it, then I can say this art succeeds, and on that basis I can recommend it. (There’s certainly more here than you’ll find in any two-hour movie this coming weekend.) Now until June 25.
Emma Bunny, Polaroid, estate of Emma Bee Bernstein © 2007