From Our Windows Book Launch

Winnipegger’s new book explores self-isolation through the lens of a Polaroid camera.

On December 10, 2020 at 7:00 PM CST, David Firman will hold a virtual book launch and reading via Zoom. The event is free but pre-registration is required. The registration form is here: https://www.firmangallery.com/BookLaunchRegistration.

David Firman’s new photography book, From Our Windows, tells a personal story of life contained within the four walls of his Wolseley home. Set during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, David uses a vintage Polaroid SX-70 camera to explore the relationship of sanctuary to the now-viral world outside—two worlds separated, yet tantalizingly connected, by thin sheets of window glass.

From Our Windows is a self-published hardcover book available through the author’s website at www.firmangallery.com.

Over the past 35 years, David Firman has undertaken a diverse range of photographic projects and participated in numerous solo and group gallery exhibitions across Canada and internationally. His photographs are in collections of the National Gallery in Ottawa, the Canadian Centre of Architecture in Montreal and the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

The Story

David Firman’s project is influenced by famous twentieth-century photographer, André Kertész. In the late 1970s, Kertész was living a parallel narrative. In his case, not a pandemic. No, his “virus” was old age (he was in his eighties) and isolation (his beloved wife, Elizabeth, had recently passed). For a venerable street photographer used to plying the streets of his native Hungary, Paris and New York City, he now found himself, looking through the windows of his New York apartment, a story he told through Polaroid pictures. The resultant 1981 book, From My Window, is a poignant expression of his search for beauty in the face of loss.

In March 2020, David Firman also found himself looking through the windows of his home, unable to practice his own photography on the streets and trails outside. Although the photography of Kertész was not something he had thought of for decades, somehow, in this period of enforced stillness, he recalled Kertész’s book From My Window. Within hours, a used copy of the book was ordered online and, shortly after, delivered to his front door.

So began Firman’s project. A vintage 1970s Polaroid SX-70 camera, similar to the one Kertész would have used, was ordered along with an ample supply of SX-70 instant film (even though Polaroid declared bankruptcy in the 1990s, the film has been revived and re-manufactured). Over the next few months, hundreds of Polaroids were taken, looking through Firman’s windows, capturing the bright prairie sunlight pouring into his home. 

Kertész’s subjects were two delicate glass figurines, stand-ins for his late wife. Firman has adopted his own set of “figurines” to represent the iconic sphere of the corona virus that has come to pervade our media sources. Many photos feature coloured and textured glass spheres filtering the outside world. Other photos are hand painted with round blobs of colour inks. But, among these menacing reminders of a now-hostile world, many other photos express the world of contemplation and mindfulness to be discovered in one’s private sanctuary.  

David Firman’s From Our Windows is a self-published hardcover book available solely through the author’s website at www.firmangallery.com. Sample images are attached and a page-by-page preview of the book can be found on his website here. The 86 page book contains 67 reproductions of SX-70 photographs taken March to July, 2020, during tWinnipeg’s “first wave” of the pandemic, as well as a brief introductory essay by Firman.

A limited edition of the book is also available for purchase. There are only ten copies in the edition and each contains an original SX-70 photograph, hand-painted by Firman and mounted on a blank page in the book. Each book is numbered and signed by Firman.

David Firman will be showing the standard and limited editions at the book launch.

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