This image will appear on a Canadian postage stamp in 2014. It was created by Lynne Cohen a photographer who is featured in a new exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Lynne takes photos of interior spaces that are unusual or unique in some way. She does not create these spaces or rearrange them. She discovers them and takes photos of them exactly as she finds them.
Lynne has been a photographer for 4o years but the show at the Winnipeg Art Gallery is the first comprehensive survey of her work in Western Canada. Lynne was born in Wisconsin and studied there as well as in Michigan and London. She’s lived in Canada since 1973- primarily in Montreal and has been the winner of the $50,000 Scotia Bank prize for photography as well as the Governor General’s Award for Media and Arts. Lynne does not use a digital camera but instead has an 8×10 view camera. Her photos don’t have people in them. She gives her pieces very general titles if any, and doesn’t tell us where the photos are taken or identify the objects in them. She doesn’t even always date her photos.
Are some of these urinals? Are some hand dryers? Is this in a spa? Is it in a hospital? In a European country? In Japan? We don’t know. Cohen leaves it up to us to interpret her photos and determine their locations and contexts. This can be frustrating but also intriguing and gives her photos a kind of timeless universal quality.
I was sad to learn that Lynne Cohen is battling cancer. In this Postmedia story she discusses her illness and her support of the decriminalization of euthanasia and doctor assisted suicide. Although this photo, like Lynne’s others, is officially untitled, we do know it was taken in Venice because in 2010 Lynne along with thirteen other photographers was invited to create a portfolio of images of the city. They were featured in a special exhibition during the 2011 Venice Biennale and later some of the artists’ work was auctioned off to raise funds for a charity called Venice in Peril, a group that helps preserve the art and architecture of Venice.
Lynne says in an interview with Bryne McLaughin that her photographs are loaded with storytelling. As I look at Lynne’s photos with the students on the tours I give at the Winnipeg Art Gallery I will ask them to create their own stories for them.
Lynne frames her photographs in formica, often flecking the plastic with a colour that connects to some feature of the photograph.
The exhibit featuring her work at the Winnipeg Art Gallery is called Between Something and Nothing and runs till the end of June.
Other posts about the Winnipeg Art Gallery……..