Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Alan Cohen - pictures and words


Alan Cohen has several quite interesting sets of work. I am certainly drawn by the photographs themselves. But what's also interesting is that most of them depend very much on the words accompanying them. The caption is important to a full understanding of the picture.

Now I'm sure some would see this as a failure: the photograph should stand on it's own; a picture is worth at least a thousand words, and if it can't explain itself then it's missed the point... and so on

But I'm not so sure. In many way's photographs have a very limited vocabulary - not really even a full language, but a half or partial-language at best. News photographs rely heavily on captions and accompanying words to give them context and expand their meaning. I don't really see why photographs meant as art should somehow always have to do without words?



"My photographs are now evidential traces of earlier events impossible to access. I travel to and document the physical remnants of history. On that terrain, the earth of our past, I reference calamity or site as a record of memory, not as an act of witness...



Improbable Boundries the natural, imposed, geologic, or treaty lines that divide forces, actions, places one from the other (such as the equator, the prime meridian, continental divides or unlikely contiguous land areas such as France and Canada or France and India....



NOW topographic pictures lifting cataclysmic events into the present through the physical index of contemporary ground at numerous ground zeros, holocaust camps, the paths of The Berlin Wall and the Israeli—West Bank Security Wall...."



I'll let you search for the captions...

2 comments:

Menlo Bob said...

Cohen's pictures are puzzles with which he wishes to confuse us. We respond with sonar-like pings in an effort to decern the familiar and locate our footings. The play between knowing, not knowing and not wanting knowledge is its own reward.

Luis said...

Abstraction is creeping back with avengeance.

--- Luis