There I Was marks a shift in medium and a conceptual departure for Collier Schorr. She is best known for her photographic studies of a real and imagined town in southern Germany, works which tease the accepted artifice of photography to forge an appropriated remembrance of German histories. Schorr found drawing a more acute medium to describe events that took place in the neighbourhoods of her childhood, specifically the muscle car counter culture of the 1960s in Long Island and Queens, NY. This history is related through the short but spectacular life of charismatic 19 year-old drag car racer Charlie Astoria Chas Synder and his 67 Ko-Motion Corvette. At the age of four Schorr accompanied her father, an automotive photographer and journalist, to a local race track where she watched Astoria Chas work on his car. A subsequent article followed, with the now eerie headline While Astoria Chas is doing his thing in Vietnam his friends are racing his L-88. By the time the article was published, Charlie Snyder had died in action in Vietnam. There I Was is Snyder's story and Schorrs dilemma. He was there, she was not. The project examines the role of the photograph as proof of the photographer's presence, territory and view, and the difficulty of representing any past without the theatricality of re-staging it.
Collier Schorr merges illustration photography and personal-scrapbook-history to explore the avenues of her mind. Her expressive collages recall her childhood neighbourhoods and the family business of muscle-car counter-culture in Queens, NY, in images that speak of escape, culture, dreams and mortality.
72 pp, 49 illustrations, 310 × 250 mm
OTA bound paperback with jacket
Steidl, May 2009