Collier Schorr was born in New York City in 1963 and attended the School of the Visual Arts, New York. Best known for her portraits of adolescent men and women, Schorr’s pictures often blend photographic realism with elements of fiction and youthful fantasy. For her 1998 project, Neue Soldaten, Schorr juxtaposed documentary-style pictures of a Swedish army battalion with pictures of fake Swedish soldiers played by German teenagers. Several of these young men reappear in Schorr’s 2001 project Forests and Fields: this time, they are dressed in an anxious assortment of German, Israeli, Weimar (Nazi), and Vietnam-era American Army uniforms.
Schorr’s images not only call into question the fractured role of soldiering in today’s society, but also examine the way nationality, gender, and sexuality influence an individual’s identity. For her Jens F. project, Schorr set out to create a comprehensive, yet unusual portrait of a young man—by photographing a German schoolboy posed as Helga, the housewife whom American painter Andrew Wyeth studied in secret for nearly twenty years. Whereas in this body of work, Schorr is comparing the way men and women pose differently for the artist’s gaze, in her photographs of American high-school and collegiate wrestlers, the artist trains her camera on a tribe of young men whose bodies and athletic training homogenize personal differences.
Schorr’s work was featured in the 2002 Whitney Biennial and the 2003 International Center for Photography Triennial. Schorr has exhibited her work internationally at prestigious venues that include Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Jewish Museum, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and Consorcio Salamanca in Salamanca, Spain. Collier Schorr currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
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Collier Schorr discusses the symbolism of the Nazi uniform, and the power of the androgynous, ambiguous quality of her photographs.