Can a roll of photographic film be considered inherently racist? Filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard thought so; he claimed that Kodak film of the 1960s was better suited to photographing white skin than black, and therefore the stock reflected an biased attitude in photography. Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin had that controversy in mind when they were asked to visit Gabon on a documentary commission, and the pair took with them rolls of expired ’60s Kodak film with which to shoot.
The experiment would later give rise to this exhibition at Foam, Amsterdam. Although the pair salvaged only one frame from that trip, it was the starting point for the collection being shown as To Photograph the Details of a Dark Horse in Low Light. Alongside Broomberg and Chanarin’s own experiments with photographing skin colour, light and shade, they have included Shirley. The item is a billboard-sized photograph of a 1950s model that Kodak Eastman distributed to developing labs around the world as a visual reference for correct exposure, creating a very particular benchmark for “normal” skin. The exhibition continues until 3 June.