Bringing new life to abandoned and lost pictures are what motivated the nostalgic Canadian photographer Kyler Zeleny for his Polaroids project. He began his quest in 2009 when he collected the first pictures of the project in rural areas of Canada.
This is an obsession he has continued to nurture and which has allowed him to recover a colossal number of lost and forgotten shots. The photographs are quite different but all of them share two essential characteristics: the anonymity of the subjects and the unknown photographer who shot them.
Each Polaroid is lacking context, explanations, names, dates, and places. At first, the Zeleny intended to search the stories of each image and then over the course of his project, he realized that the real context of the image was not so important. Thus, he looked at another aspect of the anonymity of the photos: the story that everyone sees through these mysterious snapshots. The Polaroid becomes the momentary mirror of people’s experiences and imagination as it allows them to rewrite the story that inspired each photo.
Zeleny says he’s inspired by Diane Arbus for his Polaroid project dedicated to themes such as memory and oblivion. He says the pictures are proof that something was there and is no longer, like a stain; people can turn their backs on them, but when they come back, the photos are still there watching them.
"She knows what it takes to become her own person. She's been knocked down and she's picked herself back up. She's failed, but ultimately succeeded. Who is she? The American Dream? She's a symbol. Of what?" • excerpt from Brian Petterman's story on Polaroid 109, featured in the new Found Polaroids book http://bit.ly/2wylpti