Thursday, May 22, 2008

Anne Collier at Open Eye

I will admit to being confused by the Anne Collier exhibition at Open Eye. Anne is quite a famous photographer and has exhibited widely including at the Whitney biennial. Her work must therefore be taken seriously.

In a lot of ways the work is totally divorced from my own project but in a somewhat roundabout way it is also central to it. Some 2 years ago I visited Mark Power's exhibition “A System of Edges” when it was displayed at the National Media Museum in Bradford. At the time I was unimpressed and the work was completely closed to me. However I believe that it is only by examining work which you find difficult that you begin to form a wider understanding of photography, and since then I have come to appreciate Mark’s work although I still find “A System of Edges” higher in concept than realisation – none the less his exploration of London’s A-Z informs “The Blackburn Project”

Returning to Anne I hope that by reading more about her and trying to come to terms with the apparant pointless appropriation of others work and its mere reproduction I will learn something new about the nature of photography. Anne is not alone in this field I have similar problems with Richard Prince and the following is a Quote from the Guggenheim

Prince's work has been among the most innovative art produced in the United States during the past 30 years. His deceptively simple act in 1977 of rephotographing advertising images and presenting them as his own ushered in an entirely new, critical approach to art-making—one that questioned notions of originality and the privileged status of the unique aesthetic object. Prince's technique involves appropriation; he pilfers freely from the vast image bank of popular culture to create works that simultaneously embrace and critique a quintessentially American sensibility: the Marlboro Man ...


The work displayed at Open Eye consisted entirely of photographs of other photographers or artist's work. In her artist's notes Anne makes reference to the work being autobiographical and exploring the concept of the returned gaze. In most but not all of the photographs she has chosen to photograph the subject’s eyes are important. However I am finding it difficult to differentiate between Anne’s work reproducing film posters and those same posters being reproduced in a photocopy or in a book.

Since I Anne has no difficulty in copying other people's work and exhibiting it in a gallery I have few qualms about quoting the following paragraphs from an interview she gave:-

Bob Nickas: Your recent show in London, although it's a gallery show of new or recent pictures, can be seen as a summation of your work to date. There are photographs of book reproductions and of eyes; photographs of magazine covers-German photo publications, obviously from the '70s, with images of sexualized women, each holding cameras, one of them naked; pictures that refer both to California and to the pop psychology of self-help and positive thinking we associate with a certain period, late '60s/early '70s, and place, the West coast; unspooled self-help tapes; and the representation of celebrity/publicity-posters of Madonna, and Jack Nicholson, as he appeared in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. In short, pictures of pictures and a psychological rendering of images and objects. While I see this as a summary of your examination of both picture-making and picture-reading, for you it may not mark a particular turning point; it could simply be where you are now in relation to the pictorial probing that has come before. Still, I'm wondering if this isn't a juncture of sorts, and where you might go from here.

AC: I'm interested in how these distinct groups of related images operate in relation to one another. As we've discussed, there is often a biographical narrative that informs a number of the decisions or choices I make, and that narrative is in a continual flux. Consequently, I don't see the convergence of these recent images as a juncture as such-rather I see them as being part of an ongoing and continually unraveling investigation. Certainly I feel that one of the work's central concerns, which you described as the "psychological rendering of images and objects," will persist, as I would imagine my somewhat reductive approach to making images. I'm still interested in further exploring the notion of deflected self-portraiture, and feel in many ways that I've only begun to consider the potentiality of photography's role in such an idea. In terms of where the work might be heading, I'm not so sure. Despite the formal or even calculated appearance of my pictures, I actually work very intuitively.

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