Alan Cohen “makes visible the unseen” in places marked by history or the processes of natural events. Instead of sweeping views, he aims his cameras downward to record the exact spots that permeate memory. In abstracted close-ups, Cohen challenges viewers to consider the battlegrounds of World War I, the death camps of Germany, the silenced dissidents of Oaxaca, and the subtle yet significant changes reflected in the streets of Berlin before and after the Wall came down. Each of these stories is told with great simplicity and gravity through the powerful language of black and white photography. Alan Cohen’s work is a meditation on the contemporary world, a world covered with scars. Though often invisible under ordinary circumstances, like thin silk threads they can still be seen at certain angles, at certain times of the day or night.
Alan Cohen grew up in High Point, North Carolina, and earned a B.S. in Nuclear Engineering at NC State University before enrolling in a doctoral program in thermodynamics at Northwestern University. There he met the famous photographer Aaron Siskind and took up photography. With Siskind’s encouragement, Cohen left the sciences to study photography at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design. Cohen now lives in Chicago where he is an Adjunct Professor in the Art History, Theory, Criticism Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a member of the visiting faculty at DePaul University’s School for New Learning and at Columbia College Chicago’s Department of Photography.