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Anne Collier Cuts Loose  

Originally published in OthergroundNY 

Anne Collier’s “Cut” is a photograph of a photograph. Collier’s picture shows a black and white photo of an eye, which she has sliced horizontally with a cropper, a device used to cut paper precisely with a razor blade. The bisected print rests on the cropper and the cut runs straight through the iris. The eye maintains the gaze, its soft blond brow arching just slightly, unaffected by the suggested violence.

By photographing the tools of her trade Collier has given the viewer a glimpse behind the scenes. She shot the piece on 4x5 film, then scanned and digitally printed it to a very large 49x53 inches. Through letting viewers into studio she plays magician, showing the secrets of one trick while performing a far more complicated trick at the same time. One does not notice the cropper so much as the gesture of the sliced eye. However, the eye’s gaze remains undeterred by the props or any other attempt to interrupt the composition. It becomes the focus of this deceptively simple image by a continually maintaining its stare.

The piece calls to mind the shocking scene from Louis Buñel’s 1929 Surrealist film, “Un Chien Andalou.” In the film, a man slashes a woman’s eye slowly with a razor blade.  For generations, art students who have dissected the film have discussed technique. The director tightly edited the film to shift from one frame showing a woman’s eye about to be mutilated, to another frame showing a closely cropped eye of a dead cow as the razor slides through it. Now, when shocking images are a click away, Collier’s straightforward analog image taken within sterile environs of her studio suggests the violence rather than presenting it. The photographer’s self-referential use of darkroom materials questions a world where digital technology rules. She does not use Photoshop to feign cutting an eye in the manner that Buñel used the film cutaway.  No smoke and mirrors here; the suggestion suffices. Her references to dark room technology in the photo–the black and white print and old-school cropper­–place the photo within a twentieth century time frame. However, regardless of how an image gets produced, whether bathed in photo chemicals or transmitted in 0’s and 1’s, the meaning behind the medium matters most: the eye stars in this show.


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