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 Schwäbisch Gmünd and in this period to explore the liminal space of images that were never intended to persist beyond the immediate moment. Looking back some twenty years, August both historicises the work and 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 Liliana Cavani’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