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  • Source: Art Observed
  • Author: J. Schwartz
  • Date: March 16, 2012
  • Format: Digital



Contemporary Fine Arts (CFA) Berlin hosts a selection of original Polaroids and a film from the late Dash Snow, curated by Mary Blair Hansen of the Dash Snow Archive. As infamous as his Polaroids were in art circles and beyond they were only ever exhibited three times in Snow’s life. Most people are familiar with only scanned or C-print editions of the almost 8,000 Polaroids that Snow took. Sensational and yet sensitive, these Polaroids were Snow’s entry point into the art world. On view at CFA are over 400 originals grouped and framed, with certain individual images exhibited alone.

Dash Snow, Untitled (2001-2009). Courtesy of Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin

A ‘live fast, die young’ theme runs throughout the images of self-destruction and hedonism, sex, drugs, and general misbehaving. However, with the death of Snow in 2009 at the age of 27 to a heroin overdose, these images may take on a different weight and meaning. The humor and flippancy that might have once hung over many of the explicit scenes depicted in Snow’s Polaroids becomes darker. However, also present in the Polaroids are moments of serenity—beautiful sunsets, still waters, and the ‘sleepers’ that make up many of the images on display offer a short respite from the photos’ typical chaos.

Dash Snow, Untitled (2001-2009). Courtesy of Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin

The images of friends, lovers, and vagabonds, encountered passed out or asleep, defaced and down-and-out or conversely beautiful and calm, serve as either intimate portraits or voyeurism—the interpretation often debated about Snow’s repertoire in general. Although his Polaroids remain a major part of his artistic legacy, Snow had moved on to also work in collage, sculpture, installation, and super 8 film. The film included in this exhibition, Familea Erase (2008), is a black and white film that graphically shows Snow ‘shooting up,’ interspersed with collaged elements, such as book titles, random objects, and Snow squirting blood out of syringes (often onto a skull), finishing it off with a sprinkle of glitter. A dada-esque film not for the faint provides a vicarious view of Snow’s blurry heroin haze.

Installation view courtesy of CFA Berlin Photo: Imke Wagener