• Collier Schorr

    Day for Night (1992/2021)


    Modern Art at KOW, Berlin




    KOW, Berlin and Modern Art, London are pleased to announce a solo presentation of works by Collier Schorr comprising of selected archival photographs and a recent film.


    This exhibition is the first show of "Joint Ventures", a year-long programme where galleries from around the world are invited to hold exhibitions at KOW in Berlin.

  • After Cindy Sherman, 1994

    After Cindy Sherman, 1994




    I had these ideas about modern West Germany. It was silent. It was empty. The figures were small, or they were art students lined up in front of colored squares of paper. Whatever I saw in the work of Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth and Thomas Ruff was somewhat perfect, organized, static, airless. And frozen in time that looked like the 70’s. West Germany itself, a word I might see on a watch face or an Olympic memorial to the Israeli wrestlers killed by Palestinians in Munich. Somehow, I was there and not there. Dead, memorialized, alive and dead again.


    I went to Germany in 1989. And again, for 20 summers. During the third summer I started taking photographs. I was convinced the German landscape held some truth other than the one I had seen in the large-scale imports I saw at 303 Gallery and Marian Goodman Gallery. Schwäbisch Gmünd was soft and pastoral. And the local boys seemed soft and pastoral. I would have never made photos in New York. Nan Goldin, Jack Pierson and Larry Clark already made them. But in Germany, I could take a figure of my imagination and place them in the landscape memorialized by the Düsseldorf School. And I could as they say now- queer the space. So I shot my girlfriend’s nephew Horst and a fusion of myself and him, of a young girl and of a young boy of a woman who looked like a boy. I wanted to make him suffer for his luxury… as if he knew he had this luxury which I can never know. Ultimately, it’s a simple proposition. An image of queerness in an open airfield, rather than a club or a closet or a tenement New York apartment or West Side street corner. One image is called After Cindy Sherman because of how I wished I could use myself to talk about myself. But to do that I would have to find my image bearable and I did not. I saw Germany as a very romantic place and I attacked it and was seduced by it every year. I took the one category in August Sander’s work that the Düsseldorf kids didn’t touch : the Nazi’s. I thought to myself, wow, they really left those soldiers out. Don’t they realize that’s the guts and the ghosts worth tearing apart? I began to enjoy the fact that my story about Germany, my Antlitz Der Zeit, was completely ignored. Too romantic, too gay but not authored by a gay male, too Jewish but not Jewish enough, too personal. 


    Now I look at Horst and I think about my own body naked on the cover of Frieze magazine and dancing in a ballet I’m making. And posing with Jordan Wolfson in Fantastic Man. The same face the same hair. Over 30 years difference. Suddenly acceptable. Perhaps because the queer figure has more presence agency representation. I still find Horst, with his Levis’s and sweat socks, the tropes of Christopher Street and his teenage girl make up somewhat radical. Because he looks like a living paper doll. Dressed and pasted into a landscape to disrupt the pristine crisis of a German photograph, transmounted, with a wide white border, expansive and somewhat toeing the line.


    - March 2021


  • Swimming Pool Eyes, 1996

    Swimming Pool Eyes, 1996

  • A Believable Lie, 1994

    A Believable Lie, 1994

  • Horst Condrea, 1995

    Horst Condrea, 1995

  • Castle, 1994

    Castle, 1994

  • A Chance to Travel, 1994

    A Chance to Travel, 1994

  • A Possible Mutation, 1994

    A Possible Mutation, 1994

  • Collier as Horst, 2021

    Collier as Horst, 2021

  • KOW, Berlin and Modern Art, London are pleased to announce a solo presentation of works by Collier Schorr comprising of selected archival photographs and a recent film.

    This series of photographs by the artist focuses primarily on an androgenous adolescent who Schorr documented in the mid-nineties in the town of Schwäbisch Gmünd in Southern Germany. Every summer for almost two decades, Schorr would travel to this small town. While embarking on various projects examining and re-examining the historical relevance of her presence there, Schorr would consistently photograph a predominantly male group of local youths in the countryside. When asked about this in 2004, Schorr noted ‘People say, “How come you don’t take pictures of girls?” And I say, “Well I do, I just use boys to do them.”’[1]Schorr’s preoccupation with gender deconstruction and normative presumptions about the identity and sexuality of all involved act as a focal point throughout this particular body of work. When Schorr first exhibited these photographs, she included one darkened image where she appeared in the same make up the boy was wearing. In this exhibition she includes a new self-portrait in which she is not veiled. Wearing a pair of boy’s underpants, she acts out an erotic scene that she felt unable to do with any model.


    Invoking August Sander’s study of the German population, and directly referencing German-American fashion photographer Horst P. Horst in some of the work titles, Schorr’s cross-referencing of various influential figures in the history of photography has been a mainstay of the artist’s practice. Having worked for Richard Prince at the start of her career, Schorr not only learned how to cite historically significant image-makers, but also how to directly appropriate images to present her particular desires and narratives. This is illustrated in the presented film which incorporates works by Cindy Sherman interspersed amongst archival footage from Schorr’s studio walls. The presentation of her works depicted in the film recalls the artist’s first forays into displaying images: “When I was a kid, I’d cut out pictures in magazines and hang them on my walls in very installational ways… They’d be like a false landscape, so I would have something to look at besides conservative, upper-middle-class suburbia.”[2]The film The Short Haired Sherman edits Sherman’s oeuvre into a gender ambiguous queer portrait and then inserts her own short haired pictures in the mix. It starts with a still of the only boy, Horst, the subject of her photos playing with the title ‘after Cindy Sherman.’ What becomes apparent in this film, and in the presentation as a whole, is an artist’s pursuit to examine subjects and themes around identity and gender through associative lateral retelling, in a bid to avoid perceived linear truths.  

    Collier Schorr was born in New York City in 1963 and she continues to live and work there. Schorr’s work has been exhibited at such institutions as LUMA, Arles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Krakow, Poland; Le Consortium, Dijon; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Kunstwerke, Berlin; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and the Consorcio Salamanca, Spain. Five monographic publications on Schorr’s work have been published by MACK, United Kingdom. Schorr is represented by 303 Gallery, New York and Modern Art, London.

    Schorr recently participated in an online talk with Jeremy O. Harris as part of a series of online events to mark the 30thanniversary of Frieze. The talk is currently available to watch for Frieze members. To find out more, please visit: www.frieze.com/30anniversary.


    The artist also recently took part in The Art Newspaper's The Week in Art podcast where for their Work of the Week portion, Schorr discussed the work August Sander's Young Soldier, Westerwald, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. To listen, please visit: https://www.theartnewspaper.com/podcast/frick-madison 



    [1]Garrett, Craig, Collier Schorr: Personal Best, Flash Art, No.237, Jan/Feb 2004

    [2]Porter, Charlie, ‘Collier’, Fantastic Man, No. 25, Spring & Summer 2017