In the early 1990s Collier Schorr began working on and off in Southern Germany, compiling a documentary and fictional portrait of a small town inhabited by historical apparitions. Combining the overlapping roles of war photographer, traveling portraitist, anthropologist and family historian, Schorr tells the interwoven stories of a place and time determined by memory, nationalism, war, emigration and family.
August employs Polaroids made by Schorr in Schwabish Gmund and in this period to explore the liminal space of images that were never intended to persist beyond the immediate moment. Looking back some 20 years, August both historicizes the work but also examines the devices of making, revealing the mistakes in attempting to merge contemporary Germans into their past, implicitly exposing the distance between artist and subject, and between the subject and costumes. Aware of the demons and pitfalls of historical authority, Schorr probes at the space between identification and critique – a German boy in a feather boa, posed after Lina Wertmuller’s The Night Porter, underscores her interest in the performative history of fetishism and uniform, and the way history shifts between documentary and fictionalization, distance and desire. August is the third volume in a series of books entitled Forests and Fields (Wald und Wiesen), following Neighbors/Nachbarn (2006) and Blumen (2010).
Forests and Fields is intrinsically about book making, an ongoing suite of artists books that utilizes traditional notions of category to create different points of view. Each publication is part diary, photo annual, palimpsest, and scrapbook, and involves a process which constantly expands and contradicts the artist’s oeuvre through re-edits of the work to create new views through the material. The books share similar dimensions but each is designed as an independent and unique work in itself. The final volume will be text based, a collection of commissioned and re-published writings inspired by the ideas explored in the pictures. A boxed, numbered and signed special edition of the complete set of the Forest and Fields series will be available once the project has been completed.