Nomadic Photo Ark stops at Sulfur Studios in Savannah GA

When I approached Sulfur Studios to interview Monica Jane Frisell and Adam Scher about their On::View Artist In Residency project, I was able to help with a smile as I saw the nomadic photo ark parked outside.

The converted cargo trailer that is ‘the Ark’ looks a bit ‘turned off’, it’s the exterior electrical outlets, vents and roof panels that give clues to its use for something more than that. a simple transport. The pickup truck that pulls it further adds to that sense of intrigue with its equally bizarre custom camper shell accessory.

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Inside, however, the art happens.

“In early 2021, I started building the Ark, which is a fully portable photo darkroom,” said Frisell, the couple’s photographer. “There is also a small office in there.”

A photo from inside the Nomadic Photo Ark.

“The bottom line is that I mainly shoot film and large format, and I wanted to be able to process on my own wherever I was. So I decided to put all my eggs in this little trailer.

“Portrait of US,” Scher and her long-term artistic endeavor, is about collecting and telling stories. Wherever they go, the duo connects with the local community, asking them to share their lives by telling a story of personal significance, a story the artists record, edit and share on their website, nomadicphotoark.com. After each story is told, they also photograph the storyteller with an old 8×10 camera, adding a highly detailed black and white image to accompany each audio entry.

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They use different prompts to engage people in the process and to make them feel comfortable enough to tell their stories.

'Saxon with Peazie' by Monica Jane Frisell and Adam Scher

“Sometimes that could…be your connection to where we are,” explained Scher, who handles all audio for the pair. “What is your connection to Savannah or this neighborhood? »

“And why is that important to you?” Frisell added.

While on other occasions, they prompted people to tell a story “about something that changed the trajectory of your life, a moment in time that shaped that, big or small,” Scher said.

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One person, for example, told the story of the first time she asked a girl out on a date, and how that informed every experience from then on. Another participant, meanwhile, described how cleaning up their parents’ house after one of them died led them to cut their own life down and start living in a trailer.

'Alex and Brother' by Monica Jane Frisell and Adam Scher

“It gives people the opportunity to tell those stories that they might not share with people outside of their immediate family,” Scher said. “Or maybe they never said [the story]. And – I mean it’s a really good way – people like to talk about themselves and what’s happened in their life. So it’s important to give people a platform and a cool, fun and safe way to do it.

“I don’t want to talk wholesale about our society, but we live in a time when [some people’s lives] can be very romantic,” Frisell continued. “You may feel like you’ve never been seen.

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“And that’s something where I really want everyone to leave the room feeling good. So whether the portrait is even so impressive in terms of fine art photography or something like that, it’s just to see yourself and get a nice picture of yourself that you can maybe see yourself in.

'Zazie' by Monica Jane Frisell and Adam Scher

Those interested in participating in the project can simply step into the residency space during opening hours and, if the artists aren’t already collecting another story, let their voices and their captured images be heard in the moment. But those who want to secure a spot can register via a web form at sulfurstudios.org/nomadic-photo-ark. On this site, those interested can also register for their pinhole photography and storytelling workshop which will take place on Saturday March 26 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

While attendance at “Portrait of US” is completely free, the workshop itself has a suggested donation of $30 per person.

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“I want people to either come in pairs, like you could come with your good friend, you could come with a parent, grandparent, whoever it is, whatever,” Frisell explained, “or you might meet someone. ‘one again. And then you will share a story with each other.

'Tom and Fritz' by Monica Jane Frisell and Adam Scher

“And then I’m going to make pinholes with them. Basically we will make our own cameras out of cardboard and tape. And then you’ll go shoot in the area, then come back and I’ll help you treat [the photographs].”

Each workshop attendee will end up with at least one finished piece to pick up the next day once it’s had time to dry, and the duo plan to have plenty of materials on hand to enable the ‘experimentation.

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“I’m really excited to see what people are talking about with each other,” Frisell noted.

Additionally, those who engage in any part of Scher’s “Portrait of US” project and she will have the chance to view The Nomadic Photo Arc trailer, a truly unique visitor to the street parking lot in front Sulfur Studios.

'Frisell and Scher' by Monica Jane Frisell and Adam Scher

“Opening that door to the office and the darkroom space is still, ‘Wow!'” admitted Scher.

Follow the progress of Frisell and Scher’s stay in Savannah via their Instagram takeover of @onviewresidency. You can also find them on most social media platforms under Nomadic Photo Ark.

Art off the Air is a complement to the radio show “Art on the Air” hosted by Rob Hessler and Gretchen Hilmers. The column can also be found at savannahnow.com/entertainment.

The show airs Wednesdays from 3-4 p.m. on WRUU 107.5 FM Savannah and on WRUU.org.

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