May 14, 2016
In her fourth solo show at Anton Kern Gallery, the New York-based artist Anne Collier presents a body of new photographs that expands upon her ongoing inquiry into the nature and culture(s) of photographic images, exploring questions of perception and representation and the mechanics of the gaze. In addition to her now signature visual ‘motifs’ of the open book, images of women posed with camera equipment, and photographs of analog vinyl recordings, Collier introduces a new series of images: tightly cropped and dramatically enlarged works from a series collectively titled ‘Women Crying’. Sourced from album covers released between the late 1960s and the early 1980s these new images present a gender-specific consideration of staged and manufactured emotion.
Negotiating autobiography, nostalgia, and manifestations of pop-melancholia, Collier’s work considers the tensions between her employment of an often-forensic photographic objectivity and the highly subjective and emotive content she typically focuses on. Collier’s photographs invariably depict existing objects that incorporate photographic imagery: e.g. images, books, calendars, posters, and album or magazine covers. Often focusing on sexualized or emotionalized images of women, posing with or without cameras, close-ups of the human body, and recurring images of the eye, Collier does not necessarily consider her resulting images as a form of appropriation, rather she thinks of them as a form of still-life photography, making reference to both technical and commercial (advertising) photography. Collier shoots these found and second-hand objects in the context of the studio. There is little or no artifice at work in these images. The lighting is invariably clear and neutral, the exception being the tightly cropped and dramatically enlarged images of crying women taken from vintage album covers, where the idiosyncratic qualities of the original printed matter is both privileged and amplified.
In all of Collier’s works emotions initially appear to be withheld, where her approach to the photographic image seemingly echoes earlier manifestations of photo-conceptualism in both style and emotional detachment, presenting the object of investigation as if ready for analysis and deconstruction. However, something quite different comes to light in Collier’s richly toned and large color photographic prints, especially in the recent ‘Women Crying’ series. Exploring the seductive – and often clichéd - nature of photographic imagery, Collier’s photographs open themselves to the viewer emotionally. Working with discarded cultural artifacts, which typically include evidence of their previous lives, Collier subtly refocuses our attention towards possible new readings. Working around the casual, yet blatant sexism at play in the photographic milieu of the 1970s and 1980s Collier recharges and reanimates these often-contentious images through their subsequent representation and re-contextualization. In turn Collier’s work generates obscured, improbable and sometimes unintended meanings. Through the activity of researching, collecting, re-staging and re-photographing, Collier reformulates original intent, re-distributes meaning and ultimately imbues her subjects with a form of aesthetic and emotional character that is uniquely her own.
A new artist book entitled Women Crying accompanying the exhibition will be available.
2016New York Times
2016New York Observer