Comments/Context: Anne Collier's fascination with the conceptual underpinnings of photographic ephemera continues to be a rich vein for artistic exploration. Her recent work furthers her accumulation of paper-based cast-offs and found objects related to photography (record covers, books, calendars, magazines, postcards, and other items of less obvious categorization), which are then given antiseptic still life treatment in pure white surroundings. Her approach focuses our attention on these artifacts, and the cultural tendencies they indirectly represent.
While there are plenty of decontextualized nudes on view in the main room here, the most striking are those that were originally from camera ads. Product shots of cameras and text blurbs float in front of a casually posed black and white nude, artfully placed to partially conceal (or highlight) areas of attention. In another, entitled Caravaggio by Nikon, a nude woman emerges from a darkened background, covered by something approximating a hand towel. When placed in this pristine contemporary setting, their datedness is both absurd and revealing.
The postcard still lifes in the back room work their target viewers in a different way. Instead of using shapely nudes to attract men, cameras and light meters are placed amidst other accoutrements of high living: scotch, cigars, driving gloves, sunglasses, maps (and a globe), flowers, ties, and photo albums. These works almost look like Outerbridge still lifes, with their bold nostalgic colors. Their message that a camera is a must-have accessory for the well turned out man is clear. And once again, their outmoded details make them quirky evidence of changing attitudes.
Collier's detached, commercial photography approach to documenting these items adds a layer of increased scrutiny, beyond what an exhibit of the original materials would have provided. Her isolation makes the objects and their inherent worldviews more visible, sharpening our ability to see them for what they are and to consider how much has changed (or not) in the intervening years.
Through May 12th
Anton Kern Gallery
532 West 20th Street
New York, NY 10011