Marc H. Miller & Bettie Ringma - Selling Polaroids in the Bars of Amsterdam, 1980
Photograph(s) by Marc H. Miller & Bettie Ringma
23 x 28 cm
Language: Dutch, English
In late 1979, a new phenomenon appears in the nightlife of Amsterdam: the Polaroid photographer. New York artists Bettie Ringma and Marc H. Miller temporarily exchange their loft in the Lower East Side of New York for a houseboat in Amsterdam, and start selling instant photo portraits taken in pubs around Rembrandtplein, Leidseplein and Zeedijk. They pioneered a practice that continues to this day. The pair photograph in brown pubs, Turkish cafés, transvestite bars and queer clubs; they build up a regular clientele and meet remarkable people such as, “Ko the Muscleman,” the self-confident “animer girl” Nettie, and the extravagant pub owner-cum-pigeon fancier, Henk. It’s a time of big moustaches, full ashtrays and unrestrained hedonism.
Ringma and Miller took countless photos that were distributed among the nightlife public, but – sponsored by Polaroid – they also built their own collection of more than 350 Polaroid portraits of Amsterdam bar-goers.
Forty years later, this collection is a time capsule of the raw but colorful Amsterdam nightlife in the year 1980. Selling Polaroids in the Bars of Amsterdam, 1980 is the first photo book of this unique collection. In addition to a large selection of Polaroids, the book contains descriptions by Marc H. Miller and essays by Mark Bergsma and Leonor Faber-Jonker about Amsterdam nightlife around 1980, as well as the artistic practice of Ringma and Miller.
Most of the Polaroids are now part of the collection of the Amsterdam City Archives.