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Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Mark Cohen - Grim Street

Continuing on the black and white theme, I love Mark Cohen's black and white work. A few years ago I interviewed him about his work and book, Grim Street. This is what he said.

“They are a long series of pictures that are very unconsciously driven. They are more psychological than anything else,” he says. “They are also autobiographical in some ways. My work is about fear and approaching this fear and a lot of it may be to do with my own way of thinking. Maybe that’s why some of the pictures work. There’s something I do that I don’t even understand now - that’s why they have this mystery.”

Full story here


Anonymous said...

Hey Colin-

great piece!

i understand this sense of fear. does he mean his style of shooting from the hip? is that how he deals with fear...not sure here, did i miss something? i love this book especially, seeing black and white used so well.

i think photography can be very spiritual and out of my hands at times. you focus and then something else happens in motion.

colin pantall said...

Hi Bigs - that's better than Wow, Awesome!

I think the fear he is talking about is both his fear and that of his subjects - the interplay between the two is shown in the pictures I think. Or perhaps instead of fear, you might say adrenaline. It's an unconscious and quite dysfunctional way of shooting - spiritual too in a way.

The lack of control element is also a key I think - so the image produced is not just a projection of Cohen's own psyche, there is some kind of connection or referencing of outside being/consciousness.

Timothy Archibald said...

Great for featuring his work, Colin. I'd love to read more of the interview. Cohen's work is super and the influence his work has is massive: Bruce Gildin of Magnum has admitted that his images wouldn't look the way they do if he hadn't seen Cohen's work.

I feel the book came out 20 years too late, really. Glad to see it came out at all, but it deserved to come out when the work was being produced. Did Cohen reflect on any of that in the interview?

colin pantall said...

Good question, Timothy - he was exhibiting a lot in New York in the 70s and had his MOMA show in 1973, but not that many people saw his work he says.

He always wanted to make a book but never got round to it - he paid to have Grim Street made (the cost of a mid-range car he said), mainly so he could show more than the same old pictures and to get to a wider audience. I think another thing is he doesn't live in New York and maybe was a bit offbeat in some ways - a gentle Bruce Gilden if you like.

colin pantall said...

I emailed Mark to ask him about Grim Street only coming out in 2004. He replied,"I would much rather that the book came out twenty years ago too, but it did not get done because it took me a long time to understand that I had to pay to get it done and that there would be no institutional help along this line since
I was not a guy that was around in NYC much and there the point was -
and still is --all about personality. Since I live pretty far from there I don't show up much and that counts.

Finally Bruce Silverstein said that powerhouse would do it if I paid
a subsidy and so it was done. NOW the color book TRUE COLOR is done too,as a freebie, and it seems to be going ok even if my work is basically,99%,black and white. SO
the long delay is about MY aivete and artpolitics.

Rose Gallery in Santa Monica is producing a portfolio of 30 14X17 dye transfer prints of the work in TRUE COLOR.

I saw these prints in Seattle last week and they are quite spectacular.Guy Stricherz
[Americans in Kodachrome,printer]
has made me want to quit printing period."