Thursday, October 18, 2007

Lynne Cohen - Camouflage


I've mentioned Lynne Cohen before, but I just got a note that Hasted Hunt Gallery in NY is having an exhibition of her earlier black and white work.



Most of this hasn't been shown much in the US, indeed outside Canada. While Cohen's later large scale colour (and some B&W) more often than not deals with similarly large scale or institutional interiors, this earlier work is on a more intimate, smaller scale. Both the subjects and the prints - which were originally 8x10 contact prints (though I'm not sure what size the exhibition prints are now).



Some of these pictures were the first work of Cohen's that I saw, years ago, in a book put together with Bill Ewing called Occupied Territory through which her work left a lasting impression on me.


From the exhibition blurb:

Cohen is dealing with the concept of camouflage ironically, as in hidden or deceptive, from camoufler to disguise. These are clear-eyed images of interior spaces, empty of people and seemingly affectless. These are familiar spaces, mostly rooms, but also offices, lobbies, and hallways. But there is always something very strange or disorienting.

Much contemporary photo-based work deals with "constructed" realities but Cohen’s settings are straightforward. They are what they are, even when they seem abstracted. This approach is closer to Ed Ruscha than Thomas Demand.

In her searching out of locations she likens herself to a performance artist, as she says, "because of what I have to do to get access. What I am looking for is something political or conceptual, something incongruous or pathetic, a certain sense of strangeness, incoherence, sadness or an asphyxiating order".


Cohen brings a subversive edge to the work, "There is usually something absurd or funny to counterbalance the critique. That is very important to me and I hope the humor enriches the work without masking the critical".

Cohen brings a subversive edge to the work, "There is usually something absurd or funny to counterbalance the critique. That is very important to me and I hope the humor enriches the work without masking the critical".





(Cohen's big monograph No Man's Land is still available. There's also a catalogue Camouflage, in French, which includes work from this show. Cohen's website also has lots of her work on it.)


1 comment:

Drew said...

Thanks for sharing these, Tim. They're really quite lovely,