Introduction, Fear, Anger, Despair, Guilt, Hope, Joy, Love/Conclusion
Anne Collier ( American, 1970 )
Anne Collier’s photographs are cool and detached, rigorously circumscribed in format or presentation, and almost always neutrally record objects that already exist in the world. Likewise, Collier’s photographs tend to address subjects germane to the world of photography while simultaneously questioning clichés and tropes within that sphere. Underlying much of her work, however, are personal struggles that find cathartic outlets in her photographs, eliciting empathy from the viewer and asking the audience also to emotionally invest in these same images. The events that have largely defined Collier’s private life and have provided subject matter for her as an artist, are the death of her mother from breast cancer when she was five and the passing of her father twenty years later. For an only child, being orphaned at such a relatively young age was a considerable trauma that influenced much of her early work.
Knowing these painful circumstances in Collier’s life, the viewer can infer that the many photographs dealing with psychology, especially of the popular, self-help variety, are evidence of a struggle to come to terms with loss. Introduction, Fear, Despair, Guilt, Hope, Joy, Love/Conclusion (2002/2014), shot like most of Collier’s images as a straightforward product photograph against a seamless backdrop, devoid of inflection or fancy lighting, depicts a vacuum-formed plastic clamshell box of eight cassette tapes. Each tape bears a label with one of the words in the title, presumably narrated by a psychologist instructing listeners to conquer (or in the case of Hope, Joy, and Love, to embrace) that particular feeling. However, we as viewers quickly turn from intuiting Collier’s own problems, as inferred by the image, to confronting our own relationship to these states of being.
Gabriel Ritter, DMA unpublished material, 2015.