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- Sala Azca. Avda. General Perón, 40. 28020 Madrid
This exhibition displayed the work of the naturalized Canadian photographer Lynne Cohen, who has developed an extremely interesting and coherent body of work on inner spaces over the last few years.
Lynne Cohen (Racine, Wisconsin 1944) started her career in 1971 photographing indoor locations in black and white and sought right from the start to find as direct, anonymous and neutral an image as possible. Throughout her career, her works have maintained certain basic elements that are typical of her style. All of her photographs have a certain anonymity and neutrality about them, with a slightly threatening edge to them. However, they also contain an important irony and critique peculiar to the artist. These qualities are taken to a new level at the point at which she starts using color.
This exhibition displayed the full collection of Lynne Cohen's work in Spain for the first time, through 86 photographs covering her entire career: from her interest in popular American culture in the 1970s, through domestic or public interiors, to the leisure areas and laboratories of social engineering that the artist photographed in the 1980s and 90s, as well as the Spas that her work focused on at the end of the 90s and beginnings of the 21st century.
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Lynne Cohen photographs spaces precisely as she finds them, she does not change them in any way and although the spaces do exist one might get the impression of looking at a staged scene. The large format of her photographs invites the viewer to enter into the image, to scrutinize it and to come up with their own interpretation of it. None of her photographs feature people; the artist states that she would not know where to put them, however, her photographs are full of a persistent human presence. In the 1970s her interests centered on the psychological and sociological artifice of the burgeoning American middle class. She took photographs of domestic spaces, living rooms, offices, meeting rooms, men's clubs and beauty salons. In the 1980s Cohen goes a step further and becomes interested in the mechanisms for control and manipulation of society and begins to focus on more authoritarian institutions such as laboratories, training centers, classrooms and shooting ranges. In the 1990s she begins to photograph factories and spas and from 2000, without changing the types of spaces she chooses for her subject matter, she decides to use color in her work.
Cohen works with an 8x10 inch camera which allows her, as she herself states, to have full command of the shot. This enable her to keep total control of the image, the arrangement of the composition and to produce sharp and clear photos. The photographer uses flat lighting, symmetry and distance between objects along with sensitive film, long exposure and a small aperture, lending the photos great field depth. Over the years her works have become monumental and sculptural, an effect highlight by the selection of frames made of various materials splashed with color, which blend in with the textures of some of the elements in the photographs.
© Lynne Cohen, Courtesy of the Olga Korper Gallery, Toronto