Stefanie, please introduce you to the readers.
I’m the artist using expired analog instant photography.
Polaroid is my medium of choice and has been my voice since the mid 1990’s.
I’ve incorporated this medium into art and film.
For my 60 minute feature film ‘The Girl Behind the White Picket Fence’ I edited over 4500 Polaroid photographs into a narrative. The entire vision is based on a project in the southern California called “29 Palms, CA” I embrace the ‘Wabi Sabi’ or the so called imperfections.
The chemical mutations are an important part of my work.
“It was Stefanie Schneider, who inspired me to start the company THE IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT after seeing her work, which seems to achieve the possible from the impossible, creating the finest of art out of the most basic of mediums and materials. Indeed, after that one day, I was so impressed with her photography that I realized Polaroid film could not be allowed to disappear. Being at the precise moment in time where the world was about to lose Polaroid, I seized the moment and have put all my efforts and passion into saving Polaroid film. For that, I thank Stefanie Schneider almost exclusively, who played a bigger role than anyone in saving this American symbol of photography.” – Florian Kaps, March 8th 2010
Your artistic background, main steps.
So many trails and tribulations to overcome.
The Folkwang University gave me a background in design, communications and art.
That’s where I got my credentials but my vision has always been there.
My background is now my body of work.
Can you remember your first approach to Art? Your first memories and feelings?
Everything stems from the freedom of my childhood.
I was a wild child.
Highly unsupervised. Growing up without understanding the morals of society.
The feeling of wonder and exploration. Telling stories, reliving dreams and making new ones.
What or who made you become an artist?
You’re either an artist or you’re not, It’s really that simple.
An artist can’t be anything else but an artist. There was never any question nor another choice.
One can learn but there’s a head start if you were born that way.
Your Camera/ Equipment.
Polaroid, that’s it.
What techniques do you use?
I play with light, reflection and color, narratives. A gut feeling and high emotions.
Getting everything together at the right time in the right place.
I have a vision in my head, I follow that where ever it takes me.
But since it’s analog, the work is all done before the shutter clicks.
So there is no post production per-se. I like that. Call me old fashioned, I don’t mind.
Women are the protagonists of your photographs. Why this choice? What fascinates you in the female subject?
The super hero girls of mine.
They are bigger and more beautiful in my eyes for my eyes only.
The alter ego’s of themselves: “Daisy in front of Trailer”, “Radha Pink”, “The Muse”, “The Girl”, “Margarita”, Janie, Angel, myself, Caitlin…
We are close and we can feel and understand each other without words.
All is clear.
The atmosphere you represent is vintage, what do you love about the past?
For me, analog has always been there in the present. For the new generation analog is interesting because it’s new to them.
I understand that people growing up in a digital age will wonder but it’s theirs to recover if they want. I’ve always worked with Poalroid.
When I first started, it wasn’t the past. It was a partially forgotten medium but it existed nevertheless. It is mine by choice.
There is no substitute for tangible beauty.
In the series 29 PALMS, CA, you explore the American West, please describe me the project and your feelings during the experience.
It’s a good road trip from Los Angeles.
Wide open for anticipation, interpretation, reflection.
The air is clear, the light is sharp, and the environment is out of this world.
When you get out of the car, your ears ring from the sound of silence.
The desert doesn’t remember your name.
The desert never forgets or forgives.
Shifting sand constantly exposing and covering time itself.
It’s the end of everything with an almost cosmic connection to the beginning.
Alien landscapes free us from the constraints of everyday life, like a wormhole to another universe.
It’s there where I draw my power. I dream about going there. I turn those dreams into reality.
This is where my stories start where my characters move freely, empowered.
My imaginary community of 29 Palms, CA.
An art piece that explores and chronicles the dreams and fantasies of a group of individuals who live in a trailer community in the Californian desert – where mystic characters meet, love, play and dream.
The first Trailer Trash shoot with Radha Mitchell and Max Sharam. I just met them a week prior at a friend’s house and we got along really well.
They fascinated me with their aussie aura, their wittiness and their rough edges.
I just moved to LA a few months earlier and meeting them opened the world of creativity for me.
I discovered the 99 cents store for kitsch props and the store for ladies of the night on hollywood boulevard named “Je t’aime” (It’s still a mystery to me that my choice of costumes never became the high fashion of the day).
I bought my first wigs at Frederick’s on Hollywood Blvd, a bizarre costume / magician store. This was all at a time where Hollywood was deserted and a place of wonderful hidden treasures. When it was a neighborhood.
A week later we all drove out to 29 Palms and found a forgotten trailer park. This is when we played together for the first time.
10 years past and the stories of our lives especially the story of unresolved love hit us and all our surrounding girl-friends. In order to understand what was going on we emailed and called each other till the stories became alive in the 29 Palms, CA project. Since it has been built on and on and developed it’s own life it’s own narrative.
The project started in the 90ties the internet was just beginning, the cold war was won, no 9/11 etc. A time of perfect peace so it seemed. A time of innocence and vision, getting the idea started was easy but to comprehend the longevity of such a concept takes many turns through the years. It’s not that I didn’t think it out but I didn’t anticipate the changes in society would happen so quickly.
The project has morphed to something completely different than the original idea but that’s the beauty of a lucid dream.
Your choices change your reality.
Questions define our decisions and direction.
The 29 Palms, CA project led me to the most basic of all questions and for which all art asks is about… our very existence and the experience of the journey and what we leave behind. Our daily choices are more important than we have ever imagined.
What is your most distinctive characteristic and what is your biggest fragility?
I know exactly what I want but I don’t always choose the easiest way to get there.
I say what I believe in and I always tell the truth.
I’m living an unfiltered life which is sometimes to my detriment.
What is the place that makes you feel good?
I start from my mind and work out from there. I definitely create my own universe.
I set the bar high on happy. Of course I’m not delusional but I count my blessings.
To breath clean air and swim in clear lakes.
Sharing the solitude of the desert with my love.
What are your next artistic plans?
I’m working on my “Chicks and Chicks and sometimes Cocks” series which is part of my Desert Living Project.
It encompasses all aspects of organic living including growing your own organic food, self sustainability and regarding the beauty and personality of farm animals and their welfare in an endeavor to connect human needs back to the sources of living.
The full circle of Industrialization returns to the homestead.
We are also waiting impatiently for the release of the movie “Instant Dreams” (called after my body of work “www.instantdreams.net”) by Willem Baptist.
A narrative about the Polaroid medium with me as the main artist featured.
Even my chickens play a big part.
How do you feel right now?
A bit exhausted.
So much to do, so little time. Time passes too fast.
It’s time to leave our beautiful Berlin studio again for the houseboat to swim and swim with the swans.
Where can we Follow you and your amazing Art?
Please don’t follow me, buy my work. It’s how you can really make a difference.
Invite me into your world and hang me anywhere you want.