Lynne Cohen

Born in 1944 in Racine, Wisconsin (US)
Died in 2014

Raquet club

non daté/undated
Black and white photograph, gelatin-silver print
71 x 92 cm
Year of Purchase: 1990

Lynne Cohen’s conception of photography comes down to the framing and recording of existing things, otherwise put, she offers no interpretation or direction, and only uses the available light of the place in question. She confronts the viewer with cold and sterile interiors which seem strange and alien to us.
Her work starts with an advance search for private, closed surroundings which are not easily accessible, specific places of work, research, and leisure, whose simple head-on and neutral vision does not however reveal their functionality. Her titles – Laboratory, Classroom, Practice Range, Racquet Club, etc. -, help us to situate these interiors, whose existence we were only vaguely aware of.
Although the artist forbids herself to offer any interpretation, the way she frames things emphasizes a corner, a ceiling or floor, the discreet presence of a door, or a closed window. Out of this come notions of spatiality, connection and closeness, interior and exterior, which are delimited by the Formica frame (a reminder of the materials of the venues used). This frame forms a boundary which imposes its place on the viewer, and introduces a material quality into the image, by playing on a relation between true and false, reality and representation.
These photographs, devoid of human presence, make the interiors depicted disconcerting, giving free rein to the viewer’s imagination. The only things shown are portraits, mannequins, everyday objects, and machines which cannot work without the human hand and intelligence – so much evidence of potential activity. These caricatural environments and their decoration reveal the organization and social conditioning which involve human relations which may well appear to be as artificial as the places themselves.

Anne Langlois