Mark Cohen: Voyeur

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“Parallel Arms, Aluminum Siding” 1974

“Parallel Arms, Aluminum Siding” 1974

Capturing the day to day of Pensylvania’s working class suburbia, photographer Mark Cohen documented the lives of 1970s and 80s America like no other. In the purest means of documentation, a far cry from his contemporaries and their comparatively contrived process defining the genre of street photography in New York at the time, Cohen’s oblique view tells a more honest picture of life through the lens than any other. The unsung hero’s technique involved holding the camera at hip-level, firing the camera without looking through the viewfinder, by doing so removing any consideration of framing, placing the viewer at an almost uncomfortably close proximity. The resultant shots tell an intimate story of moments captured, forcing us to examine the details often otherwise missed, from the frayed fabrics of worker’s cloths to soft skin of a child’s upper leg, this waist-level outlook provides a kind of brutal sensuality closer to voyeurism than documentation. “They’re not easy pictures,” he says. “But I guess that’s why they’re mine.”

Mark Cohen, a retrospective of the documentarian’s work, is on view at New York’s Danziger Gallery until June 20th.

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