Impossible project

Alison Mosshart shares her personal polaroids for a Berlin exhibition
By Nazanin Shahnavaz | Art | 6 October 2016

Alison Mosshart

It’s been eight years since the Impossible Project rescued and refurbished the last Polaroid factory in the Netherlands. To celebrate this milestone, Impossible is holding an exhibition of polaroids shot by the likes of Tim Barber, Jack White, Roger Ballen and Alison Mosshart.

Inspired by the fact that each pack of Impossible film includes eight photos, they asked eight participants from across music, art and photography to shoot on the new I-1 camera for what they titled Project 8. The I-1 is the company’s first instant analog camera that also connects to any IOS or Android device, blurring the boundaries between analogue and digital.

Submissions flew in from all over the world, many of which capturing intimate or personal encounters – like those shot by Alison Mosshart. Mosshart, who makes up one half of rock duo The Kills, first started taking polaroids as a child when she felt a compulsion to document the aspects of life that one may typically forget. Ahead of the exhibition opening, Mosshart shares the inspiration behind her Project 8 series.


“In front of the face and the view of the back of someone’s head has always been interesting to me. Faceless and out of tune. To me, it speaks of coming and going with no ‘here’, or being present but not totally ‘there’. Hiding in plain sight and leaving without a look. There’s something heavy and disparate about it. Unattached. Over before it starts. These are totally ‘uncommitted self-portraits’.”

Hair by Alison Mosshart

Stuffed Animals
“The artist Mike Kelly turned me on to stuffed animals when he did the record sleeve for Sonic Youth’s ‘Dirty’. He allowed me to see them differently, as signifiers of time, happiness, failure, neglect, and trash, – the inevitable end of naivety. Nothing is forever – certainly youth, and certainly our ability to attach magical thinking to inanimate objects, is tested by reality eventually. Things are just things, or so we’d like to forget (or never discover). The man who gave me that bear eventually disappeared, then so did the bear’s ‘personality’. What it meant then is not what it means now. The mind is our lens through which we see and conceive, and we are always changing our minds.”

Stuffed Animals by Alison Mosshart

The Helicopter
“I love helicopters. I view them the same way I view fireworks in the sky, like dressing or decoration on the horizon. I spent a lot of time working in Hollywood last year and they were always flying over. Police helicopters looking for people on the run, stolen cars, etc. It costs thousands of taxpayer dollars just to get them off the ground, and you see fifty of them a day up there whizzing around like demented bats. They go up and they come down. After a few months, I started to think they were just there for my entertainment.”

The Helicopter by Alison Mosshart

The Car Crash
“The front end of this thing doesn’t exist anymore. I’ve got a love for wrecks, crushed steel and big machines that once cruised gracefully through the streets, only to eventually become sedentary duds of twisted junk. Its glory days are over, but it is no less beautiful to me. And since I don’t know the story, I get to imagine one. I can think anything in the whole wide world I want as I walk by.”

The Car Crash by Alison Mosshart

The Skull 
“The skull over my brother’s face was the start of a mini series of double exposures I made, where I was pretending to have x-ray vision. The photo fit the bill because after working on these, I became convinced I ‘do not’ have x-ray vision. Maybe I used to, but I lost it.”

The Skull by Alison Mosshart

The Hotel Bed
“I’ve been taking photos of my hotel beds for many years. Like the traveling circus – stage up and stage down, roll in and roll out – this is much the same. All these hundreds of beds I sleep in… a different one every night, nights of sleep and sleeplessness, bad dreams in foreign countries, sweet dreams in random cities, alone and sometimes not. Who cares where and who cares what – when I wake up in the morning I take a photo of the bedsheets for posterity, because “I was here”… much like people take a snap of the Eiffel Tower or the beach, an ugly statue or some pornographic looking basket of bread they’ve just been served. We are compelled to be part of our own lives, and part of that is acting on our desire to make sure we don’t forget what we’ll definitely forget. How often we are compelled to take photos of ‘nothing’ to remind us of something that no longer exists?” 

The Hotel Bed by Alison Mosshart

Project 8’ is on at The Impossible Project Lab, 87 Potsdamer Strasse, Berlin from Thursday 7th Ocotber 2016


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