Unboxing CatLABS Papersafe, Issue 6 “Ninety Seconds.”


I picked up Papersafe #3 “The World and the Totality of Facts” a couple of years ago, and then didn’t keep track of the magazine or CatLABS at all. Now, a year and a half later, Issue 6 comes along, and it’s a little bit different than most other magazines…

Ninety Seconds is a collection of four small photobooks, and one small booklet of essays, plus a postcard, all housed in a stiff cardboard box. It’s limited to 75 copies, and at time of writing was still available for purchase, so if you see something you like, jump on it!

The concept for this issue is fairly simple: four photographers were loaned one of CatLABS’ “Swordfish” instant cameras and a box of Fuji FP100C, and then their photos were collected into little books.

Jordan Kalman continues her “Sleepwalking” series with pictures of herself (presumably) and others, mostly naked, in and around what appears to be a nice country home. According to a little blurb at the end, the project is an attempt to examine femininity, beauty, and sex, in the context of her worries and curiosity over how her two young daughters will mature, and how she will deal with their coming of age. Michael Christopher McCraw used his time with the Swordfish camera to document his wife and young daughters during a stressful time when they were moving around and he was spending long periods of time away from them. Molly Matalon took the camera on a trip to Joshua Tree with some friends. They took turns taking pictures of each other, often naked, climbing around the national park.

In all three of these, the pictures show an awareness of the snapshot aesthetic, and it plays to the strengths of the camera and film, I think. The focus is rarely very precise, pictures are often under or over exposed, and the framing is almost always precise and clearly inspired by an awareness of art history and photographic aesthetics.

But the fourth booklet is different: Josie Keefe wrapped various objects in aluminum foil and did some New Formalism type stuff… Fun, and quite different from the near-interchangeable subject matter and style of the other three books.

The fifth book contains a brief introduction and three essays. One each from Millee Tibbs and Darren Lee Miller, both meditations on the relationships between polaroid and digital—Tibbs’ by examining the connections between Daguerrotypes and polaroids, and Miller’s by looking at the ways artists have employed polaroid materials. (There’s more to both essays than that.) And a third essay by Paige Mazurek and Brooke Mazurek, 2/3 of a group of triplet sisters, one a photographer, the other a writer, looking at polaroids the photographer sister took when they were children.

Ninety Seconds is an interesting document of contemporary art photography, as seen through the eyes of the good people at CatLABS, anyway, and it’s definitely worth the $35, if you can get one before they’re all sold out. I look forward to seeing what future issues bring. Hopefully, I can keep my eyes open and catch them.

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