Anne Collier

Anton Kern Gallery
16 East 55th Street
April 5, 2012–May 12, 2012

Anne Collier, Veterans Day (Nudes, 1972 Appointment Calendar, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Edward Weston), 2011, color photograph, 50 3/4 x 64 5/8”.

Anne Collier’s photographs traffic in calculated obsolescence, their subtle deconstructions steeped in 1970s hues. Her latest show comprises nineteen pictures of pictures in print ephemera—magazines, books, album covers, and postcards—all level against a nondescript, off-white ground and shot with forensic cool. Her austere, self-evident technique counters the worn, vintage quality of the found objects she so deliberately curates: artifacts from an age when photographs were still tethered to paper.

As is frequently the case with Collier’s work, representations of women and the gaze are foremost in this show. In Woman with Cameras #1 and #2, both 2012, Collier photographs double-page spreads for now-defunct Asahi Optical cameras, culled from a 1980s-era magazine. The ads feature a naked woman, all torso and legs, her body strategically overlaid with cameras: One hovers just below her nipple; another abuts the shadowed V of her sex. Reminiscent of Richard Hamilton’s $he, 1958–61, the conflation of fetish, commodity, and female body is here explicit, the model’s organic contours echoing the camera’s mechanical curves. The copy belabors these grotesque conjunctions (women-object, camera-phallus) to the point of absurdity, proclaiming CONTAX RTS SPELLS SEX and PENTAX K2: A SHARP NEW BAYONET. Hedged by multiple frames—the faded magazine, the neutral backdrop, and the glass pane—Collier’s restaging achieves an emphatic, and necessary, distance.

The aesthetic pleasure of looking at flesh subtends many of Collier’s works, unsettling us through the ease of our complicity with the camera’s gaze. Veterans Day (Nudes, 1972 Appointment Calendar, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Edward Weston), 2011, captures a MoMA appointment calendar decorated with the smooth, flawless torso of a 1926 Edward Weston nude, a photograph famously claimed by Sherrie Levine in her Untitled (After Edward Weston), 1981. Rephotographing a rephotograph, here distributed in the most banal of forms, Collier raises questions about the readymade image, then leaves her work open to a multiplicity of answers.

— Courtney Fiske