Thursday, June 12, 2014

Collier Schorr, 8 Women @ 303 Gallery

I really loved the last Collier Schorr show at 303. It was a random assortment of pictures that seemed to pull a lot from Ethridge’s scatological approach to editing. In case you were wondering, in 2004 Ethridge was doing Ethridge, and Schorr was doing a pretty straightforward edit of her wrestling work. Like Ethridge, the pictures in Schorr’s last show were formally strong, but individually a little open-ended, unless seen as a part of a greater whole. Schorr photographed humble studio sculptures and strings supporting flowers, making her work more sculptural than Ethridge. The show also featured a wonderful video of a young man possibly with special needs lying in a bathing suit in the park. It was a powerful and effective installation that in a roundabout way seemed to speak about her continued interest in Germany. But the new show feels a little barren and short on formally complex pictures. The images are all of women, often nude, and range from recent pictures to older work, to a drawing, to possibly vernacular work and includes one very half-assed sculptural piece of two rolled prints of a naked woman.

The show layout is straightforward with new large color pictures on all but one wall, which has a clump of images that seem culled from her older work. The point seems to be that she is using her own past pictures as vernacular images, to serve as a reference point for the large color pictures. But generally the walls seem pretty empty and the large room at 303 is doing nothing for the one sculpture, which seems like an outlier that cries out for some more sculptural pieces to make any sense in the installation. But all that put aside, I am not sure what I am getting from the pictures. They did make me think about Schorr’s sexual orientation. She has spent a long time photographing young boys wrestling, or modeling WWII army uniforms, but at no time did the pictures seem all that erotic. Despite the scandalous flash, the wrestling pictures felt almost anthropological, more like a study of male eroticism than actually erotic. The young WWII models often felt slight and effeminate, and neither work created a sense that the photographer found the subjects sexually engaging, nor did it seem like they were intended to be read that way. But I have to say the women in the new show seem a lot more sexualized. There is clearly more graphic nudity than in the work with men, and it could just be my own preferences, but outside of an odd picture of topless woman stacking bricks, I think sexy is not an unfair descriptor for the rest of the pictures. The subjects of these images are without fail of traditionally attractive women, who seem to be comfortable if not confrontational in front of the camera. Oh, and there is one naked young man who has such a pretty face that I did linger in front of him for a second assuming it was a transgendered person, but I am pretty sure its just a pretty young man. So again, not entirely sure the show works, but I am generally in support of nakedness. I guess the show incorporates a lot of Schorr’s fashion work, and as the press release states, “Schorr questions who the women that desire to be looked at are, as well as what power exists in acknowledging that as a post-feminist position.” If that helps you any.

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