303 Gallery is pleased to present a series of large scale portraits, a landscape and a still-life by Collier Schorr “Forests and Fields”.
Collier Schorr directs a skewed vision of German military life in “Forests and Fields”. A lush forest bed, covered in moss and pine cones is the perfect place for reflection. A young man-- perhaps American--with his back to the camera gazes towards history or away from it, depending on where one's melancholia lies. Using a 4 x 5 press camera without a tripod, Schorr captures the fleeting expressions of a troupe of young men, some newly conscripted into the German Bundeswehr (army), others who await their destiny with timeless repose.
For Schorr a contradictory fascination with Germany has always stirred her photographs. "These pictures are as much about what I see as what I imagine I see, either through the veil of fantasy or an inherited anxiety.” An innocuous sports ground (Spielplatz, 1996) nestled by the Schwabisch Alps includes a camouflaged swastika. Two soldiers wear their own camouflage uniforms as well as those that might have belonged to their grandfathers and uncles.
Schorr uses light and shadow-- the photograph itself a vehicle for nostalgia-- to interpret a complex maze of identification and memory. The pictorial space is described in a language akin to traditional western painting within the vast context of nature. An almost apparitional 15 year-old Wehrmacht soldier appears on a hill side. Dangerously close to propaganda, he pokes at the prohibitiveness of nationalism, the fear of pride, the allure of the taboo. As much as he is trying on this uniform, so too, is Schorr.
Schorr, who has been working in Southern Germany for the past nine years, began a photographic study of the soldier in 1996. She completed Israeli Soldiers in 1997 and Neue Soldatten in 1998-a project that juxtaposed documentary pictures of a Swedish Battalion with pictures of fake Swedish soldiers played by those same German youths. A comparative study of the historically combative armies of Sweden and Denmark (2000) continued this exploration. Schorr's first book is due out in July, published on the occasion of her exhibition at the Institute de Salamanca. Schorr will speak about her work at the International Center of Photography on November 14, 2001.