Artist Talk: Anne Collier


Notes: Exhibition Opening and Artist Talk Last Night at the AGO.

TALK: Anne Collier in conversation with curator Michael Darling from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. The conversation was part of the opening of the exhibition at the AGO on Collier’s work from the past ten years, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and touring with a stop in Toronto. Some interesting comments that I want to remember include her own observation that the works could not be discussed as individual pieces but as groups of works tied together. Also, commented on the nostalgic images she collected and felt that she was rescuing the image to a place where it can be taken seriously. Collier identified the album cover art as a place where photography was first introduced to her. A great talk -just what I needed. I had an extra ticket for the event.

EXHIBITION INSTALLATION: I went to see the exhibit before the talk and found Collier’s work to have a great impact because of the scale and the installation. The works were installed thematically in different rooms. The different spaces worked well to bind the relationship between specific works. I liked that. Also, Collier’s works were framed in simple white frames and installed on white walls and this worked well to remove anything distracting. The works seem to float into the space of the viewer, rather than being confined within the parameters of a frame. So they almost appeared frameless and this worked well with her deadpan aesthetic. I liked this too.

OBJECTS + PHOTOGRAPHY: Collier works with photo objects. Collecting from thrift stores and ebay, she seems attracted to photo based works such as album covers, tear sheets from magazines, calendars, and postcards. Sometimes she uses her own photographs as in the photographs of her eyes or her hands holding photo objects. In both cases, and with all of her work she re-photographs them which bring attention to the fact that they are objects. Yeah, she re-photographs her own work – again suggesting that the photograph is a thing/object. Other works include objects such as cassette tapes or file folders that have been photographed and configured into new meanings.

AESTHETICS + STYLE: Collier approaches her work with a documentary style; it’s clean, cool and deadpan. The works are large format, approximately 50 x 60″ ranging slightly in sizes (which she described as intuitive to each work). Although she appropriates imagery she uses space (floor and wall) when re-photographing them which isolate and add psychological drama to the image/object. I would say that these are still life images.

THEMES: The themes in Collier’s work range from images and objects of women holding cameras (reversal of the male gaze), pop psychology, commercial photography and self help themes. But the work is personal and is about self-reflection.

It’s really difficult to decide which works I enjoyed the most so I won’t make that decision. There is something compelling about her album covers and the photographs of her eyes that are re-photographed in a darkroom developing tray or sliced in a paper cutter. I get that. What I found exciting about her work was how the work was personal but didn’t come across as narcissistic. There was enough room for the viewer to interpret it in their own way. I loved her dark humor – that cassette tape labelled “problems” with the tape spewed out and tangled. Funny and sad. Of course, I’m interested in her work because of the genre of still life which brings me to love the way she uses photography and representation to say that this is how we come to understand ourselves.


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