Lynne Cohen Fortifications

Olga Korper Gallery ⁠ accessible_forward

Lynne Cohen’s photographs present a contemporary glimpse of humanity’s archaeological footprint, evidence of human activity made conspicuous by the absence of its players. Devoid of human occupation, the spaces pictured are laid bare. Each image is filled with a million details signifying human life both intimate and industrial-scale, and alludes to the tension of humanity’s architectural presence on the planet—the way we cloak ourselves in materials more artificial and sterile than our animal nature would suggest we’d desire. Cohen’s images explore how spaces behave when purposefully occupied versus when abandoned, and the tension between these states. What do these spaces mean without their occupants? They are both empty and full of the echo of human presence. Each environment pictured sits in patient anticipation of the return of its inhabitants.

The photographs in this exhibition have been selected from four decades of Cohen’s image-making. Her large-scale prints simultaneously beckon the viewer with their seductive size and barricade them with their portal-like sculptural frames. While the spaces in the photographs sometimes seem menacing, it is a comfort to know that in each, Cohen was standing just out of frame, a human presence warming a cold landscape.

Lynne Cohen (b. 1944 Racine, Wisconsin – 2014 Montreal, Quebec) is known for her photographs of domestic and institutional interior spaces. A recipient of numerous awards of merit, including the Governor General’s Award in Visual Arts and Media Arts (Canada) in 2005, and the inaugural Scotiabank Photography Award in 2011, this exhibition runs in conjunction with the opening of Cohen’s work at the Pompidou, Paris.