Behind the Scenes: Wex’s wall of fame

  • Photo by Meghan Ralston
By Columbus Alive
From the June 6, 2013 edition

It all started with a Spice Girls toy Polaroid camera.

Adorning the hallway wall of the cozy Film/Video Studio Program at the Wexner Center are more than 200 Polaroid images of visiting filmmakers to the residency program (most of whom stay for a few weeks to work on post-production editing). The date the photo was taken is scrawled in ink below.

Miranda July — July, 2000.

Sadie Benning — January, 1999.

Jem Cohen — “‘Allegorical Photograph’ 5/27/05.”

“While it’s not comprehensive, it’s become this amazing record of independent filmmakers,” said the program’s curator Jennifer Lange.

Lange’s predecessor, Maria Troy, who was associate curator of media arts for the program that was at the time called the Art & Technology Studio, started taking the photographs in 1999 with a Spice Girls camera that was lying around.

“People started to really have fun with it,” Lange said.

The artists are posed in various settings, some calmly smiling headshot-style at the camera, others amid an elaborate background they made just for the Polaroid.

Sam Green, a filmmaker who has participated in the Wex’s selective film residency program more times than he can count (check out: “The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller,” “Lot 63 Grave C” and “The Rainbow Man/John 3:16”), appears on the Polaroid wall several times.

“[The wall] is a Who’s Who of a kind of art cinema world. Anybody who’s anybody in that world has come through the studio. It’s a real illustrious place, and you can feel it when you’re there,” Green said by phone from his New York home. “I was kind of nervous when I was there. I was like, ‘Are they going to ask me to take my photo for the wall, or do I have to ask myself?’ I was very determined. I wanted my photo on that wall.”

It’s like an indie filmmaker’s version of carving initials into a tree or signing a yearbook. The photos reveal the filmmakers’ personalities and the family-like atmosphere the studio organically creates.

“It’s amazing to see the people we’ve supported through our existence,” said Mike Olenick, one of the studio’s two editors.

That includes the staff’s real family. “Stella. 3/7/04” is a Polaroid of Lange’s newborn baby on the office couch.