In her studio-based photographic practice, Anne Collier brings the objective approach of technical and advertising photography to emotional and psychological subject matter drawn from books, posters, or magazines. As Collier explains, for her the studio is “both a framing device and … a ‘stage’ for various kinds of photographic tableaux.” Many of her photographs are shot with a rostrum setup that allows her to capture static objects from above. The technical requirements of this process—to avoid distortion, the body of the camera and the object being photographed must be perfectly parallel—give her photographs an exaggerated sense of flatness.
The series Open Book presents photographic tableaux of anonymous hands holding open books of photographs against a white background. In Open Book #3 (Island Wilderness), endpapers show a serene ocean view, the image reminiscent of a stock photograph that might be used for calendars or postcards. The crease at the book’s spine and the volume of its underlying pages slightly misalign the seascape. Viewers are acutely aware of looking at an image of someone looking at an image. As Collier comments, “there is a kind of doubling at play, where the real subject of the work is the activity of looking.” Playfully voyeuristic, the photograph also highlights the unbridgeable distance created by representation.
Anne Collier’s Open Book #3 (Island Wilderness) introduces a new artist to the ICA/Boston collection and augments the museum’s strong photography holdings, joining works by artists such as Leslie Hewitt, Louise Lawler, Cindy Sherman, and Sara VanDerBeek who also use found and stock imagery in their work.