Sometimes we discover more by asking questions than by making statements. A question can open up several possibilities at once, like, what is this workroom used for? The potential answers are many, and perhaps as surreal as the space itself. What is concealed behind these doors, and why are they so numerous? What can you do in a room that is not even soundproof? Why would you require such a large open space to gather outside these tiny rooms? Is this environment for criminals, civilians, or military personnel? Where on earth is this place anyway?
For more than thirty years, Cohen has been photographing interior spaces devoid of people—laboratories, health spas, classrooms. By elaborating on the seemingly fictional quality of the spaces, the purposes of which are frequently ambiguous, Cohen plays up an aspect of social control that makes itself apparent in strange ways.
Lynne Cohen has lived and worked in Canada since 1973 and currently resides in Montreal. Trained as a sculptor and printmaker when Pop Art and Minimalism were dominant in the art world, she has a long-standing interest in the artificial and the everyday. She focuses on the psychological, sociological, and political aspects of her subjects. The disorientation that her photographs provoke is largely the result of the specific and mysterious nature of the places she photographs, with their odd symmetries and disjunctions. Her work is marked by a strong visual and formal sense that conspires with the content to get under one’s skin. Cohen has conducted workshops in Europe and North America, and for some thirty years, taught at the university level both in Canada and the United States. She has been the recipient of numerous awards of merit, including the Governor General's Award in Visual Arts and Media Arts (Canada) in 2005. Her work has been seen in countless solo and group exhibitions around the world and is represented in over fifty public collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Australian National Gallery, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Canada Council Art Bank.