Exceptional talk with Mark Cohen and Vince Aletti
Mark Cohen, Woman with red lips smoking, 1975 / Courtesy ROSEGALLERY
"There’s a rude, restless energy to Mark Cohen’s work that feels frantic and a little alarming.
His camera is a hit-and-run vehicle, swerving so close to his subjects that he often chops off more body parts than he can fit in his tight frame, leaving only knees, necks, bare torsos, grasping hands. Even his still lifes are volatile, unstable. Like Luis Buñuel and David Lynch, Cohen sees the world askew.
This is Wilkes-Barre, the once thriving, now depressed Pennsylvania coal town Cohen has always called home, seen through the photographer’s shattered looking glass.
His Wilkes-Barre isn’t an example of urban America in decline, it’s a mindscape, an abstraction all the more compelling for its dreamlike specificity.
Mark Cohen knows there’s still something “inappropriate” about many of his pictures–he’s too close, too much in your face–but that’s what’s thrilling about the work. His pictures don’t let us relax and pretend we know what we’re doing here. Like him, we’re at home, but we’re still strangers on a strange land." -Vince Aletti, August 2013