Some of our most perceptive critics are artists, as this show of early work by Anne Doran, a frequent contributor to Time Out New York, amply demonstrates. During the late ’80s and early ’90s, Doran created quasi-Constructivist wall reliefs that combine found images mounted on aluminum-panel honeycombs with arrangements of metal bars.
Artificial Intelligence (1987), for instance, enigmatically couples a photo of a Christmas tree bedecked in icicle lights with another of a paper shredder. Friendly Fire (1991) is a starburst of sharply angular fragments of naked, mostly female bodies, suggesting a consideration of the way vision shapes sexual desire. In Rack #5 (1991), a freestanding sculpture on a pedestal, fetish porn rubs shoulders with scientific imaging and sinister machinery, disconcertingly equating various forms of discipline and control. A pair of untitled 1990 collages that superimpose hard-core sex onto shooting-range targets makes this point with even greater ferocity.
On the one hand, Doran’s work harks back to the “Pictures Generation,” sharing that group’s feminist interest in deconstructing images to examine their hold over us. On the other, her work seems to predict our current wired age, with its overload of visual stimuli, its regimes of pornography and surveillance, and its frissons of random juxtapositions held together by tenuous threads. At this moment, when New York seems to be rediscovering one overlooked ’80s artist after another, Doran’s unassuming practice feels not only prescient, but urgent.—Joseph R. Wolin