Anne Collier @ The Modern Institute
Anne Collier's second show at The Modern Institute quotes to good effect the tropes of commercial photography, questioning its role in reproducing stereotypes of femininity and what it might mean to be 'post-picture'
In Resistance to Replication, written for Tate Papers no.8, Margaret Iversen notes the critical obsolescence that has befallen the technologies of reproduction. In a beautiful turn of phrase, Iversen mentions how “these confident technologies that once participated in the shock of modernity now open themselves to reverie.” Prefacing Anne Collier’s Women Crying series shown at The Modern Institute’s Osborne Street gallery is How Do You Think Others See You?, a photo of a New Age, self-help manual. The promise of the new and the acknowledgement of that hope’s inevitable misalignment with reality are yoked together from the very start.
Enlarged and tightly cropped to an exaggerated portrait ratio, the photos of photos of women crying reveal advertisement’s practice of surfacing and reinforcing notions, such as the vulnerability of women, that are latent within a societal consciousness. In the exploration of how mass production of an image violently debases the emotions it depicts, the obvious comparison is painter John Miller’s Everything Is Said series of paintings of people crying on reality television. However, instead of painting, Collier utilises the photo-object and reclaims emotive power by engaging with found photography’s attentiveness to reminiscence and loss. In Collier’s 35mm slide-projection Women With Cameras, found pictures of proto-selfies taken by women between the 1970s and the 2000s cycle round. The work bestows focus on these remnants left behind from a consumer economy intent on newness and disposal.
Collier’s pictures are affective precisely because they are disposed pictures and not just archived digital images; the degrading physicality of pictures enable them to hold a tangible history and they experience redundancy, just as we do. The question that remains is whether, post-picture, we will need digital images to be able to hold the history that their predecessors were able to anchor for us. Or, without pictures, will we find ourselves suspended in stasis within a glut of images? [Colm Peare]