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Selling Polaroid Portraits in the Bars of Amsterdam, 1979-80
Marc H Miller & Bettie Ringma
For Bettie and me the hardest part of selling the one-of-a-kind portraits was losing the many great pictures that nightly passed through our hands. Polaroid Corporation partially solved the problem when they gave us film to take second shots for an exhibition. Then the Dutch Ministry of Culture commissioned a videotape of our photography excursions. The exhibition "Amsterdam Privé" showcased a year of Dutch nightlife capturing in the photos and videotape the people, action and sounds. At the packed opening, "celebrities" from the city's working class bars intermingled with Amsterdam's cultural elite. Like much of the art we did in the 1970s and 1980s, our Polaroids now seem like a missing link connecting the Pop epoch of Andy Warhol with the current art world transformed by computers and the internet. Often our instant pictures were placed by patrons on the walls of their favorite bars. How different is this from the displays of digital pictures now posted instantly on websites like "Last Night's Party" and "Cobra Snake?"