When instant photo maker Polaroid threw a goodbye party to ‘celebrate’ the fact that they stopped making cameras and films Polaroid fanatic Florian Kaps ran into Polaroid technician André Bosman. After a few beers they came up with the idea to keep the brand alive and Kaps went back to Austria to find investors for their plans. Because they (and third founder and now accountant Mawan Saba) where not sure if there were enough people who shared their enthusiasm, they choose the name Impossible for their new store. Quickly investors where found and they set up a store at a temporary location in Austria’s capital in 2008. The start up money was used to buy the machines needed to make the special – and by then sold out – Polaroid films.
At the moment the machines in the Dutch city of Enschede are producing films for Polaroid fans around the world. They are wrapped in Impossible packaging and sold over the counter and to other hip stores world wide, such as Paris’ Colette. The enthusiasm of the founders paid off: They opened stores in Hong Kong and New York and because there is no competition, business is going well now. Vienna’s shop manager Sarah Jungreithmayr told me that she used to look for Polaroid cameras on Ebay and on local flea markets in the past. But lately there is one individual who made it his job to look for Polaroid merchandise to resell to Impossible on a regular basis.
The shop in Vienna is located at Westbahnstrasse 38, next to a Leica store and the Westlicht Gallery. The sign above store reads: ‘The rebirth of instant photography’ and stepping into the store actually takes you a step back in time. On the right side of the entrance stands a very charming French Polaroid advertisement, colors and carton a bit bruised by the sun and time, but nevertheless a perfect mood maker for the rest to come. Because of the brown vintage wallpaper the first part of the store feels like a living room. On the right side wall the wallpaper provides a perfect background for portraits. The glass table in front of the couch acts a display for some pics taken of pop star Seal, who’s visited the store some time ago and posed willingly and in witty poses for store manager Sarah. The second part of the store has shelves with numerous different Polaroid cameras and folders on the counter with smart tips and tricks from the trade.
Once a month there are Polaroid workshops where you can learn to become a better (instant) photographer and how to manipulate your photos. Until the 21st of August the neighbouring Westlicht gallery has their beautiful collection of Polaroids on display. The Polaroid [Im]possible exhibition contains of Polaroids bought by the gallery after liquidators put them on the market. 330 Polaroids in different sizes (type 52, 808, 55, 655 for example) made by renowned photographers and artists such as Araki, Rauschenberg, Newton and (of course) Warhol are absolutely worth a visit.
Mary Ellen Mark has a few beautiful 80’s NY street-photos on display. Also from the 80’s: six works by André Thijssen and three by Stephan Troxler. Nine little masterpieces that go together well in their simple black frames. There are some stunning manipulated photos by Andreas Mahl and Odile Moulinas and I found four surprising pictures by Paul Huf (three rooms photographed as a fly on the wall, from above) and one with model dolls in a type of surreal post apocalyptic setting.
A dog in front of a fridge with a poster on the side of a wolf entitled “Evolution”, by Tamarra Kaida, will definitely make you smile. All with all the gallery hosts a beautiful selection of work, all shot with the instant camera that was luckily saved and revived by a couple of people that believed in the strength and timelessness of the brand.