At the age of four, Collier Schorr accompanied her father, an automotive photographer and journalist, to a local racetrack, where she watched the charismatic and youthful drag racer Charlie "Astoria Chas" Snyder at work on his dream race car, a 67 "Ko-Motion" Corvette. An article followed, with the now-eerie headline, "While Astoria Chas is doing his thing in Vietnam his friends are racing his L-88." For by the time the article was published, Charlie Snyder had gone to Vietnam, and after only one month of duty, died there on August 27, 1968, shortly after his twenty-first birthday. Astoria Chas never got the chance to drive his car as he had intended, and so his friends drag-raced it, setting the AHRA record for its class.
"There I Was" marks both a shift in medium and a conceptual departure for Collier Schorr. Beginning with her father's images of Snyder at work and Snyder's own snapshots from Vietnam, Schorr then draws on professional reportage pictures to literally sketch out Snyder's monumental journey from Queens to Vietnam and back. These drawings are contrasted with reproductions of vintage car-magazine articles and Schorr's own photographs and portraits. Based entirely on photography, this volume engages with the medium and simultaneously challenges the role of the photograph as document of the past. "There I Was" is a multifaceted look at escape, culture, dreams and mortality, conjuring an expressionistic portrait of the dichotomies of the late 1960s in a fractured wartime America.show more