Laboratory, 1994, printed 1995
American, Canadian, 1944
gelatin silver print
73.9 x 94.2 cm; integral frame: 110.5 x 128.3 x 2.8 cm
Gift of an anonymous donor, 1996
National Gallery of Canada (no. 38395)
ergonomics laboratory with bath and skeleton, Michigan
"Laboratory" picks up on a recurring theme in Cohen's work, which has consistently taken as its subject the configurations of the interiors of schools, spas, health clubs, and industrial and surveillance agencies; the space of the research laboratory. The bathtub-cum-shower cubicle with all its imperfections and its ghostly blur of a soap holder is as familiar a space as one can get, inviting the viewer to step in and feel right at home. But the sentinel, the headless skeletal model, along with the computer flanking the tub-shower installation, disinvite the viewer in equal measure. Lynne Cohen's contribution to the discourse of contemporary art is important not only within the context of her peers in the area of photography, such as Dieter Appelt, Thomas Ruff and Laurie Simmons, but also in relation to contemporary artists who use photography as a medium of expression, such as Jeff Wall. Her work is inspired by Duchamp's notion of the readymade object, and she has been influenced by the work of Man Ray, Magritte and minimalism.