Debutante Brigid Berlin (her father Richard, a long-time President of Hearst Corporation, was a close friend of Richard Nixon and Nelson Rockefeller; her mother Muriel was a New York socialite) and blue collar Andy Warhol were best friends. Together they were Mrs and Mr Pork. You might have seen her show Brigid Strike, in which the manor-born artist would appear on stage and call her friends and mother on the phone and argue before a paying audience.
Berlin was the girl who rebelled; buying speed with the gems from the silver box the Shah of Iran had given her parents; collecting receipts from the floor of the local deli for Warhol’s tax-deductible ‘expenses’; recording her rebellion on tapes and her Polaroid 360 (bought in 1968), the results affording us glimpses into her time and place. “No picture ever mattered,” she said. “There was never any subject that I was after. It was clicking and pulling it out that I loved.”
Brigid’s polaroids epitomise the candid, unselfconscious artist; her snapshots taken without planning by a compulsive chronicler of her friends and visitors to Andy Warhol’s Factory. What you see is what was there. Warhol’s wigs, skin and scars are shown without guile. The shutter on the camera clicks. The picture lolls out. The work is done.
Bridget’s polaroids would look good in SHOT! , Flashbak’s growing collection of bad photos, those poorly composed, baldy-lit pictures we all have in drawers and paper folders – the snaps we don’t frame but keep because they capture the reality of the moment. We’re wary of showing them. Brigid had no reservations.
John Walters admires Brigid’s work. He writes in his foreword to Brigid Berlin Polaroids:
“The Polaroids here show just how wide Brigid’s world was; her access was amazing. She was never a groupie, always an insider… Andy was uncovered and revealed like never before… [she] was always my favorite underground movie star; big, often naked, and ornery as hell… the ultimate cool part-time fag hag who also slept with the cute straight boys … so chic, so defiant … Hippies jumped out of her way in fear. I was awestruck. I still am.”