Lynne Cohen: These Walls
Capture Photography Festival
BURNABY ART GALLERY, Burnaby BC - To April 21
by Michael Turner
By the time of her passing in 2014, photographer Lynne Cohen of Montreal was renowned for her large-scale colour pictures of institutional spaces. Some of these spaces were inside factories, private offices and medical laboratories, while more diffcult-to-access spaces included shooting ranges and military installations. In the words of National Gallery of Canada senior curator of photographs Ann Thomas, “There is a subplot connected with getting into places. It’s not obvious in the pictures but it’s there all the same.”
In addition to her patience and tenacity, Cohen possessed another quality common to photographers in search of the perfect picture: an interest in research. To those close to her, Cohen was known to spend hours in archives and libraries, poring over technical journals in search of content, chasing down contacts on the telephone. Although not directly present in her pictures, there is always something lurking, a presence linked to activities associated with her chosen subjects. As is often the case, these activities, like research, have less to do with leisure than with labour. Mounted in conjunction with the 2019 Capture Photography Festival Selected Exhibition Program, this overdue retrospective marks the first time in decades that Cohen’s work has been shown on the West Coast. As well as her colour pictures, These Walls includes Cohen’s earlier work in black-and-white photography, some of which dates back to the early 1970s. For those interested in hearing more on Cohen and her work, BAG curator Jennifer Crane will lead a free “in-depth” tour on Sunday, April 7, at 2 pm.