Lynne COHEN classroom #2
  • YEAR: 1990 TECHNIQUE: silver gelatin EDITION: 1/5 DIMENSIONS: 111 x 129 cm MODALITY: photograph
  • I thought to send you an excerpt from an interview which makes reference to
    smells, contrasting those from early and later work. There is also a version
    of the interview in No Man’s Land.  The bear picture is connected to smells
    in my later work especially disinfectant, metal, formaldehyde.   Best from
    Pamplona,   Lynne

    Why did you resist dating your work for so many years?

    This has been a bone of contention even with some of my strongest
    supporters.  Mainly I didn’t want the pictures to be about a particular
    place and time. I didn’t want people to say: this is the 1970s, this is the
    1980s, this is the 1990s.  And I’ve always had a strong sense of life as a
    blip and of thirty years not counting for much in the big scheme of things.
    Probably what prompted me to start dating the pictures was that I became
    more territorial.  I wanted it to be known that I did something before
    someone else.  In any event, it is not so hard to figure out what is early
    work (work between 1971 and 1980), later work (work from about 1980 to about
    1990) and most recent work (work from the last ten years or so).  You can
    tell from the objects.  The pictures are a kind of archaeology of fixtures
    and furniture.  There is no question of when Professor’s Living Room was
    made (page XX), the picture with the bean bag chairs.  You can almost tell
    from the smells associated with the places I photographed.  The early work
    conjures up smells of ashtrays filled with cigarette butts, empty beer
    bottles, Freon, wet dog hair and air freshener.  The later work conjures up
    smells of chlorine, metal electric wires, gasoline, plywood and
    formaldehyde.  The smell of linoleum is a constant so this method is not
    entirely reliable.  Also the early work is funnier, messier, more
    symmetrical, warmer and less threatening; the later work colder, tidier and
    more disquieting.

    Smells in my early work:
    Ashtrays filled with cigarette butts
    Old wax
    Unwashed empty beer bottles
    Dog hair on wet carpet
    Baby powder air freshener


    Smells in my later work:
    Electric wires