591 Exhibition: Fluff & Fold - Connie Conway

WATCH the Exhibition ( 20 pictures )

Fluff & Fold is a series of black and white images documenting the Laundromat Culture.

It began in 2002 when, upon exiting a restaurant where I had just enjoyed lunch with a client. I noticed an old dilapidated Laundromat in a freestanding building across the street, which was totally out of place with the other buildings in the neighborhood. I took a look inside and became intrigued with what I saw. The appeal was the collision of cultures and personalities coming together with a common purpose in a backdrop all too familiar to everyone. I knew immediately this was something I wanted to explore further. Since then I’ve photographed over 100 Laundromats from California to Georgia and most recently on a trip to Blarney, Ireland.

My intention has always been to document the Laundromat experience not to exploit it. I wanted to create sharp clean photographs. I chose to shoot it in black & white to enhance the light and texture in each image, leaving reality and content to the imagination of others. I set out to find the camera angle from which the shapes and forms would spur debate and thought about how we look at things.

Over time Fluff & Fold developed its own identity. It began as a series of individual images, grew into triptychs and lately to panoramic views. When I began the project I often barely lasted five minutes in the Laundromats. Some of the patrons and attendants were not happy with me being there. They didn’t want to be bothered. At other times I found acceptance and even an eagerness to participate in my project. It didn’t seem to matter if I was in a middle class or impoverished Laundromat. The reactions were the same.

Now that I’m shooting panoramic views I end up spending several hours waiting for the patrons to be in the right position. Despite using a tripod and shooting many shots moving the camera between exposures, I have found that I have become part of the environment, more often accepted for the time I spent just looking.

With panoramic images in mind, I decided to revisit some of the Laundromats to look at them with fresh eyes; In hopes of broadening my vision to a scope never imagined when I started the project. Much to my surprise about 1/3 of the Laundromats have been torn down or replaced with the “Super Sized” experience where you can enjoy your trendy coffee. That awakening bears the obvious question, what will be the neighborhood Laundromat in ten years?

To view Fluff & Fold online: www.connieconway.com