Lynne Cohen: Occupied Territory
Preface by David Byrne. Text by Britt Salvesen.
In 1987 Aperture published Lynne Cohen’s first monograph, Occupied Territory, an exploration of space as simulated experience--a sham reality, idealized and standardized. Now, Aperture is publishing a newly expanded and updated reissue of this classic monograph, making Cohen’s pioneering work available to a contemporary audience and situating her within the lineage of Lewis Baltz, Stephen Shore and other celebrated New Topographics photographers. In the 20 years of work contained in the book, Cohen turns her view camera toward classrooms, science laboratories, testing facilities, waiting rooms and other interior spaces where function triumphs over aesthetics. What decorations the inhabitants might have added to these rooms to make them more inviting--mostly phony attempts at warmth or individualism--only serve to amplify their artifice and uniformity. In cool, functional offices, futuristic reception areas, lifeless party rooms, escapist motel rooms and haunting killing chambers, Cohen surveys a society of surface, contradiction and social engineering. In her hands, clouds peel off walls, forest glades invade indoor tennis courts and the awkward lives of furniture are revealed. Drawing on a background in sculpture, Cohen records the world’s readymade sculptures, waiting to be framed by the photograph. This new edition of Occupied Territory includes unpublished images drawn from the time period in which the book was made, encouraging a reexamination of Cohen’s deft exploration of Topographic seeing.