Thierry Cohen

March 28 - May 4, 2013

Press Release

Thierry Cohen was born in Paris in 1963. He began his professional career in 1985
and is seen as one of the pioneers of digital photography. His work has been
shown at the Palais de Tokyo, and the Musee de l”Homme in Paris, and in 2008
was an official selection of the Mois de la Photo. Since 2010 he has devoted
himself to a single project – “Villes Eteintes” (Darkened Cities) – which depicts
the major cities of the world as they would appear at night without light pollution,
or in more poetic terms: how they would look if we could see the stars.


Cohen’s method is original and precise and harkens back to the methodologies
employed by early 19th century photographers like Gustave Le Grey. He
photographs the world’s major cities, seeking out views that resonate for him and
noting the precise time, angle, and latitude and longitude of his exposure. As the
world rotates around its axis the stars that would have been visible above a
particular city move to deserts, plains, and other places free of light pollution. By
noting the precise latitude and angle of his cityscape, Cohen is able to track the
earth’s rotation to places of atmospheric clarity like the Mojave, the Sahara, and
the Atacama Desert. There he sets up his camera to record what is lost to modern
urban dwellers.


Compositing the two images, Cohen creates a single new image full of resonance
and nuance. The work is both political and spiritual questioning not only what we
are doing to the planet but drawing unexpected connections between disparate
locations. Equally importantly it asks: what do we miss by obscuring the visibility
of stars? As the world’s population becomes increasingly urban, there is a
disjunction with the natural world which both Cohen and science posit causes both
physical and psychological harm. Cities that never sleep are made up of millions
of individuals breaking natural cycles of work and repose. Cohen’s photographs
attempt to restore our vision, and in beautifully crafted prints and images offer the
viewer a possibility - to re-connect us to the infinite energy of the stars.

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