New York

Lynne Cohen

49th Parallel

There’s always some more-or-less odd element in the rooms Lynne Cohen photographs. Sometimes these elements are strikingly unusual; for example, in Classroom in a mortuary school, n.d., huge disembodied models of an ear, lips, and a nose hang high on a wood-paneled wall. More often. Cohen photographs things that we might take for granted—stuffed animal heads on the wall above a stairwell, rows of photos of the leaders of an Elks lodge, samples of fake-brick paneling on the wall of a contractor’s showroom. But by depicting these scenes in a cool, deadpan style—evenly lit, in black and white prints from large-format negatives—and without people in them, Cohen takes the objects out of their everyday contexts and underlines their strangeness.

The tactic of framing aspects of the social landscape in order to emphasize their tacky weirdness is a staple of Modernist photography. Cohen’s rooms have

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.