For her installation at Artpace, Woman With A Camera (35mm), Anne Collier created a durational slide projection piece featuring frames from the 1978 film Eyes of Laura Mars. The artist bought a vintage 35mm reel of the film’s theatrical trailer and transformed individual frames into slides. She chose eighteen images from an early sequence in the promotional trailer that shows the lead actress, Faye Dunaway, in the process of taking a photograph and her subsequent surprised reaction to what she witnesses off-screen. The slides are projected at regular intervals and the complete cycle lasts several minutes. Although the installation has a pseudo-cinematic feel, Collier does not intend to promote or emulate the film. Rather she investigates the incongruity between how we experience film time and photographic time by isolating cinematic imagery so that it is closer to still pictures.
Upon entering Collier’s installation, viewers are confronted with spare elements: a darkened room, short rows of unassuming stools, a freestanding screen angled slightly away from the entrance, and a slide projector that advances slides showing frames from Eyes of Laura Mars. The quiet room-punctuated only by the measured sound of the slide projector advancing to the next slide-creates a hybrid environment that reads as part micro-cinema and part art history lecture hall. As viewers sink into a metronomic contemplation of the slide sequence, a sense of narrative and heightened anticipation begins to develop, only to go unresolved as the projector loops back to the opening sequence. This spare and formal approach to images charged with emotive content is a signature aspect of Collier’s highly conceptual work, and with this installation she introduces the element of time as well.
The artist’s presentation of elements from the film Eyes of Laura Mars recalls her ongoing photography series that focuses on depictions of models or actresses posing as female photographers, such as Women With Cameras (2007) and Woman With A Camera (Cheryl Tiegs/Olympus #1) (2008). Woman With A Camera (diptych) (2006) is a diptych based on publicity stills again from Eyes of Laura Mars that contain similar images of Dunaway with her camera. About the theme of female photographers, Collier says that “these images typically reinforce highly stylized and often highly sexualized stereotypes.” The artist concedes that these images also allude to aspects of her own biography: her photographs of female photographers and photography equipment can be read as surrogates for Collier herself.
Collier explains that she “is concerned with thinking about existing photographic conventions or existing manifestations of photographic imagery, and my attempts to infect or interrupt these conventions with more personal narratives, even if such narratives are only alluded to or hinted at.” Collier often utilizes the eye motif as a way to introduce a combined universal and personal narrative in her work. The artist is interested in the eyes not only because they express emotion and feeling, but also because they are analogous in their function to a camera’s recording of the outside world. By synthesizing the eye and camera, personal and universal, and emotive and detached, Collier’s Woman With A Camera (35mm) continues her investigations into the nature of the photographic image.
Interim Curatorial Assistant