Watch How Photographer Collier Schorr Blends Fact and Fiction to Capture ‘as Many People’s Desires as Possible’

As part of a collaboration with Art21, hear news-making artists describe their inspirations in their own words.

Collier Schorr at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin in 2015. Photo: Clemens Bilan/Getty Images for IMG.

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in Manhattan, and institutions far and wide are joining together to celebrate and promote LGBTQ rights, including the Staten Island-based Alice Austen House, which is joining with the Stonewall Forever project this summer to present a new commission by photographer Collier Schorr.

In an exclusive interview in 2003, Schorr spoke to Art21 as part of the PBS series “Art in the Twenty-First Century,” and described why she is drawn to what she calls “tribes”—teenagers, wrestlers, soldiers—”people that look the same, but aren’t the same.” In the episode, Schorr recounts her experience shooting wrestlers, who seem to exude a certain masculinity, but also have a rich and complex emotional life that’s rarely depicted.

Collier Schorr, <i>Momentarily Out of Place (H.T. & A.M.)</i> (2002). Courtesy of the artist and 303 Gallery.

Collier Schorr, Momentarily Out of Place (H.T. & A.M.) (2002). Courtesy of the artist and 303 Gallery.

“I wanted to make work that spoke to as many people’s desires as possible,” Schorr tells Art21, “be it a maternal desire, or a fraternal desire, the desire to revisit your youth, the desire for romance.”

For Schorr’s 1998 project Neue Soldaten, the artist lived in Stuttgart and photographed German teenage boys pretending to be Swedish soldiers. She then placed them next to documentary-style images of a real Swedish battalion, blurring the line between fact and fiction.

Other projects, many of which are on view at the Alice Austen House, focus on teenage sexuality and androgyny, challenging traditional ideas of gender roles. “For me there is no progress unless you put things forward—unless you unveil desire, unless you unveil repression,” Schorr says. 

Watch the full segment, which originally appeared as part of the “Art in the Twenty-First Century” television series on PBS, below. “Collier Schorr: Stonewall at 50” is on view at the Alice Austen House through September 30, 2019. 

This is an installment of “Art on Video,” a collaboration between artnet News and Art21 that brings you clips of newsmaking artists. A new season of the nonprofit Art21’s flagship Art in the Twenty-First Century television is available now on PBS. Watch full episodes and learn about the organization’s education programs at

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