591 Exhibition William Schmidt - Lonesomeville

It's the most viewed exhibition, so far on 591 and I am happy to announce that there will be a continuation. Lonesomeville II will publish right here in the coming months. This series by William Schmidt is unique and it is a treasure to have it here.
 - Mr Urbano

WATCH the exhibition

The images you see here are part of project I began as a "tribute" to E.J. Bellocq's photographs of Storyville brothel workers. They were plain women working a desultory trade, but there was something about Bellocq, I imagine, that made them smile. Though they are not smiling often in the photographs and are presented without much glamor, there is a quality in the presentation and presence of the women themselves that is appealing to me.

My description of the project to potential models was simple. I sent them some of the images Bellocq had taken. I asked them to bring clothing that might approximate the costumes they saw there, vintage or vintage-looking garments or things, at least, that did not appear too contemporary. I also told them that we would shoot as Bellocq had, aping the long exposure times by having them hold poses for five or six seconds. I wanted to capture that sort of dignified awkwardness that I saw in his photographs, I said.

I began to make a set that might look something akin to what I saw in Bellocq's pictures--and failed. Nothing in my background had prepared me for what I was attempting. And so I kept it simple--a canvas drop and a few props, an old cafe chair, a faux-feinting couch, a small table, and other knick-knacks that I picked up.

I shot first with a model I had worked with before who was familiar with what I was trying to do. And immediately I knew that the project would transform. As we looked at the Polaroids on the table where they lay, I noticed something of the lonesome emptiness I associated with the paintings of Bellows and Balthus, that suggestion of the struggle with the hollowness that comes, at times, to inhabit us all.

And so it was that each of the women I worked with became a character and I a cinematographer. We worked with whatever they brought to the shoot. I would give them minimal instruction and let them begin to create. The process was slow, slower than what they were used to with digital photographers, and as I peeled the Polaroids, there was plenty of time to talk. It was an interesting and wonderful way to work, collaborative and personal.

What you see here is some of what we made.

A couple years ago, I had just discovered a new way of working with Polaroid 669 film. And just as I did, Polaroid made the announcement that they would not longer produce the film. Up until now, though, the film has been available here and there, and I have had a good supply to work with though the quality of the film dyes has begun to diminishing rapidly.

Now, however, it is all gone. My supply has dried up. After the small supply I have hoarded is used up, there will be no more images made this way again.
I still have some film left and have begun shooting a series with men. I have a few images already, but not enough to even things out, so we will present this as the first part. If I am lucky enough, there will be something more to come.

- William Schmidt

William Schmidt is a unique writer and photographer. His work "Lonesomeville" is some of the most impressive photography I have come across in recent years. I hope that this online exhibition will bring attention to William's genuine and original work. I would like to see this online exhibition on a wall and as a photobook as well. Thank you Mr Schmidt for sharing this extraordinary series of images. - Mr Urbano


mia said…
Great work!
Jacek Siwko said…
seriously great!
Rhonda Boocock said…

it is indeed awesome to see it all together! 31 and 33 are my favorites. But yes it needs to be shown all together to have impact.

“Life's an awfully lonesome affair. You come into the world alone and you go out of the world alone yet it seems to me you are more alone while living than even going and coming.”

Emily Carr
Mr Urbano said…
yes, 31 and 33 are great - it is almost impossible to select from this impressive collection
I like 16,18,53,75,80 to mention a few
Jan Bernhardtz said…
Thanks for showing this great collection! Impressive!
Mikael said…
Very good, each and every one with high impact
Sean Q6 said…
I have watched this collection develop from its inception and I am still surprised at how they appear when placed together this way.

Bill was my teacher from 1984-1992 (approx.), he encouraged me to apply for film school and I was accepted. His influence upon me has been enormous over the years, though not all of his positive influence was as effective as he might have hoped.

Though he had told me for many, many years as I was traveling to buy a camera and begin framing the world, it wasn't until last year that I finally did so, and it has changed my life. I see through different eyes now, and I am obsessed with cataloguing the strangeness of the world. I have him to thank for the encouragement, and even some of the strangeness.

This collection of his is impressive and I will eventually work on getting a few of these prints. They are beautiful and sad and graceful and full of emptiness, and yet full of other things to.

-Sean Cusick
Very nice indeed! It is wonderful to see an artist resolve artistic issues and develop a unique vision. This is striking and beautiful, personal and thoughtful work...dramatic "hard" images with such a soft veneer. Thank you for sharing!
Lajos Gombos said…
Great forever!