Critics’ Picks

Anne Collier, Woman Crying (Comic) #4, 2018, C-print, 50 x 63".

New York

Anne Collier

Anton Kern Gallery
16 East 55th Street
April 12 - May 19

Jerry: “What is this salty discharge?”

Elaine: “Oh my god, you’re crying.”

Jerry: “This is horrible. I care!

Jerry Seinfeld’s puzzlement at his own tears in this snippet from his “show about nothing” offers a reminder that crying is still too often dismissed as a feminine weakness, a marker of emotional release that men are supposed to find embarrassing. In the midcentury romance comics that Anne Collier excerpts in her new photographic series, “Crying (Comic)” and “Tears (Comic)” (both 2018), we understand with very little context that the “salty discharge” depicted comes from the eye of a heartbroken female lover. Dribbling down fields of pink-orange skin, it suggests a cliché of instability that was these vintage titles’ stock-in-trade, which continues to seep into contemporary pop media.

In the upstairs gallery here is Women with Cameras (Self Portrait), 2017, a slide projection of eighty shots (the originals were traditional prints, not selfies) in which women are seen taking pictures of themselves in bedrooms, bathrooms, and elsewhere. These amateur images, characterized by harsh lighting and awkward poses, recall an era just before digital manipulation made everyone a retoucher—when rejected pictures were hidden or thrown out but not deleted. The result is a raw commentary on body image, self-regard, and style that’s also colored by the inherent sadness of any found image or object. Who are the subjects, and where are they now? Like the owners of those tearful eyes, they’re nameless and lost, reduced to nothing but emotion.