Nottingham Contemporary presents a major exhibition by Anne Collier, one of the most exciting artists working with photography to have emerged in the past few years.
The imagery she chooses is often romantic, sentimental or clichéd. Her art works use received images, handed down to us from the cultural world of the mass media that surrounds us. They are also pictures that she - and we - somehow find irresistible. They refer to an intimate world of feelings - but she retains a critical detachment about these widely available, commodified images.
Many of her photographs themselves feature a photographic image. She uses clichéd posters, magazine and album covers, photographed against flat, plain surfaces, so that the depth in her photographs is almost non-existent. Very little comes between the images and her overall photograph. Yet the two remain absolutely distinct. Her work can be seen as perpetuating an art that questions the possibility of originality in image-making. In New York of the late 70s and early 80s artists like Jack Goldstein, Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince and Sherrie Levine were sometimes called the Pictures Generation. Their work was referred to as Appropriation Art in that it borrowed and reproduced existing images.
Collier can be seen as contributing to this debate. What she adds is an indirect sense of self-portraiture. We sense she may be saying something about herself by making these widely circulated images her own.
She sometimes re-photographs photographs she herself has taken - a print of a close-up of her eye floating in chemicals in a developing tray, for example. In fact the eye motif recurs in her work.
Her work makes us very aware of the sexual politics of photography - amateur and professional. It presents us with stereotyped images of women - both as the subject photographed or as the photographer herself. Now based in New York, Anne Collier studied at CalArts under the artist John Baldessari - as did Jack Goldstein three decades earlier.
The Anne Collier exhibition is generously supported by the LUMA Foundation.
With thanks to Valeria and Gregorio Napoleone, exhibition patrons of Anne Collier’s exhibition.