Anne Doran, Photo-works (1985-1991) @Invisible-Exports

JTF (just the facts): A total of 8 three-dimensional photo-based works and 2 collages, generally unframed, and hung against white walls in the main gallery space and the smaller office area. The three dimensional sculptures are made of back and white and color photographs, honeycomb aluminum, and aluminum bars, and were constructed between 1986 and 1991. Physical sizes range from roughly 22x18x9 to 54x73x11, and all of the works are unique. The two collages are made of black and white photographs and paper shooting range targets, made in 1990. Each is sized 36×24 and is unique. (Installation shots below.)

Comments/Context: By the late 1980s, when Anne Doran made most of the photo-works on display in this solid show, appropriation art had already become a widely accepted form of engaging with photographic imagery. Coming on the heels of the so-called Pictures Generation artists of the 1970s and early 1980s (Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, Barbara Kruger et al.), the next batch of artists and photographers that came along dug further into criticisms and investigations of the burgeoning reach of various media, pushing deeper into how photographs were exerting an increasingly complex influence on desire, power, and commerce. As seen here, Doran’s unique sculptural approach added a layer of object-quality physical depth to ordinary image scavenging, turning a careful selection of resonant pictures into a constellation of connections.

From the perch of today’s networked world, Doran’s nearly thirty year old constructions seem to signal our contemporary existence and its flood of linked imagery. Black and silver aluminum bars sit behind clusters of photographs, tying them together like lines on a map or thread through a series of buttons, bringing disparate images into dialogue that would normally have stood apart. Fragmented nudes intermingle with high tech machinery, layers piled on layers in a rack-like tower or cut into shards and reconnected like a starburst. Aerial maps mix with industrial tanks, icicle Christmas lights dance with a paper shredder, an accident scene and a smoking car bumper bookend a face, with door handles, lampshades, and thigh high boots joining the conversations at skew angles, all of it built up on thick squares and rectangles of corrugated, honey combed aluminum, turning normally flat images into three dimensional shapes that float on the wall in a nest of lines. Seeing each work is like burrowing into a pile of disconnected cultural signifiers, following the intimate to the militaristic, then onto the corporate and industrial and back again, around and around in continuous motion. Her nearby collages of explicit nudes embracing bullet-ridden shooting range silhouettes put an even sharper point on these same contrasts.

What’s fascinating about these works is how Doran’s aesthetic further objectifies each component part in her larger systems – her appropriated images all have a sense of cool, inspection-like distance, where everything from skin to metal is being observed, scrutinized, and fetishized. Having the pictures then jut out from the wall in complex jumbles of boxes and posts further removes them from anything warm and human – she’s built up a clinical set of interrelationships, each with its own kind of subtle underlying dread. It’s a streamlined, networked world she’s envisaged, and it’s the one we’re living in now.

Collector’s POV: The works in this show are priced as follows. The three dimensional sculptures range in price from $7000 to $14000, while the collages are $4000 each. Doran’s work has little secondary market history, so gallery retail remains the best option for those collectors interested in following up.

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