Formalized as a collection of moments in which different voices and inclinations overlap and combine, in August, Collier Schorr (the war photographer, the itinerant portraitist, the anthropologist, and the family historian) composes a plot in which the documentary and ephemeral portrait of a small town in southern Germany serves as the stage for a complex narrative in which the things shown live in the shadows of a dramatic and complex memory.
Nationalism, war, emigration, and family are severe and constitutive elements of a psychosphere under which Schorr portrays his subjects, an exploration of the space and perception of images and imaginaries that were not meant to endure beyond the imminence of the moment.
Setting its sights on the past, August is a project that attempts to analyze narrative and identity devices; a serious project, through which Collier Schorr reveals the extraneousness and distance that lies between the contemporary German and the past German; a precisely narrative divergence that the author emphasizes – first and foremost, perhaps, for himself – without, however, lacking in awareness and intellectual honesty.
Shorr threads a path: at times dramatic, at times profoundly beautiful, at times capable of another invention. Image after image the author guides us on an exploration in which the crossing of history, personal and identity narratives, a certain attention to performative history and a fetishism for uniforms, work together to constitute the scenic elements of a strange universe. A visual space that, stretched between the praxis of documentation and that of staging, is fulfilled in the vivid contradiction between the temptation of desire and the need to maintain a distance.
August is the third in a series of books entitled Forests and Fields (Wald und Wiesen), following Neighbors/Nachbarn (2006) and Blumen (2010). Forests and Fields is a series of artist’s books that use traditional notions of category to create different points of view. Each publication is part diary, photo annual, palimpsest, and album, and involves a process that constantly expands and contradicts the artist’s work through new versions of the work to create new points of view through the material. The books share similar dimensions, but each is conceived as an independent and unique work in itself. The final volume will be text-based, a collection of commissioned and republished writings inspired by the ideas explored in the images.
Collier Schorr was born in New York City in 1963. As part of the heady New York art world of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Schorr’s early work mined the vernacular of postmodernism to create photographs that toe the line between documentary and fiction. Often using her subjects allegorically, Schorr’s work navigates the auspices of identity politics to ask beguiling questions about the nomenclature of selfhood. By introducing autobiographical referents and post-appropriation aesthetics into her practice, Schorr’s ongoing body of work negotiates the fluid nature of authorship and performance in relation to portraiture.