For almost forty years, Lynne Cohen has photographed fragments of the real world, transforming them into found installations. Cohen’s background in sculpture may have intensified her interest in space itself, specifically the space in the surreal, claustrophobic places she photographs that have no way in and no way out. Devoid of human presence, her photographs of strange interiors, lobbies, laboratories and military installations suggest deception, manipulation and control. She is fascinated by the absurdity of modern existence with its camouflage of man-made materials, strange lights, doors that defy entry, threatening instruments left behind and spas that bring to mind anything but healing. Cohen’s interest in social justice lies beneath the surface of much of her work, underneath the layers of contradictions that make it almost impossible to determine the site-specificity of her images.
Using a large-format view camera, Cohen’s recent work includes the results of a first trip to Cuba. Combining analogue with digital scanning technology, her images appear more lifelike than reality itself and reveal startling similarities across time and space. One should not be deceived by the ostensible neutrality of Cohen’s formal devices; her work is as beautiful as it threatening and as much about social situations as about the politics of space.