For this retrospective dedicated to Lynne Cohen, Fabienne Leclerc wishes to give carte blanche to the French photographer Patrick Tosani. He will offer a personal reading of the work of Canadian photographer whose career has spanned over 40 years.
«One thing is clear, one way of looking at Lynne Cohen's work could be to consider it as a description, an inventory, a typology of the functional, utilitarian and rational places that we call workspaces, technical premises, training or learning areas in different schools, offices and organisations... but also private living spaces, fashioned in a kitsch manner by their occupants.
Another way would be to analyse what is going on in her "readymade" recordings, as the artist sometimes liked to refer to them.
These places have the particularity and specificity of being reduced to their unique expression, or rather one simple expression: a delimited space, the corner of a room often 2 or 3 shots at most, the floor, the ceiling, a few items; only those necessary to the functionality of the site, with textures, singular materials, and almost always artificial lighting.
The protocol is consistently the same: "Re-entering" real space and photographic space simultaneously, by getting closer to or further from the objects, pushing parasitic elements out the frame, revealing the objects present in the space, in elaborate yet simple composition, light, emphasis and colour.
Lynne Cohen uses photography with this awareness that her relationship to reality is revealed by the "presence of space": This is where the image plays.
But the artist does not just come across these places. Her technical apparatus, the photographic chamber, insists particularly on the development of a photographic space as a mirrored projection of the real. These places are, in their formal simplicity, a metaphor for the constitution of the optical nerve.
The space becomes an image mastered as one would an installation or sculpture.
Her training as a sculptor is certainly not foreign to this approach, as are many possible references in her images of artists who mattered to her (Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Richard Artschwager, minimalist and conceptual artists...) but also some from her generation: Lewis Baltz, Victor Burgin, Marta Rosler...
The incongruity of situations, devices or objects reveals a strangeness, out-of-step, which constantly questions and always ripe with a sense of humour about issues of simulation, repetition, control, deception, concealment, absence... The spaces are empty, missing characters, but the objects present transform into as many specific figures, such as furniture, machinery, mannequins, drawings, diagrams.... which are often signs of the spaces' functionalities.
The repetition of these tirelessly closed environments forces the observer into a given frame. But these areas do not only refer us to their own representations. The multiple planes, windows, screens, objects and decorations reveal a space opened through precise and elaborate spatial construction, along with a subtilely dynamic composition.
The objects, in turn, become figures and the whole space, emptied of its users, is eventually soaked in a deaf and enigmatic presence."