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Synaesthetics

Moser, Gabrielle (2015) Synaesthetics. Canadian Art, 31 (4). p. 116. ISSN 0825-3854

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Official URL: http://canadianart.ca/magazine/

Abstract

While Cohene's earlier works sometimes made the spectator feel like a voyeur onto an intimate relationship, her new works draw us into the action, offering us a seat in the therapist's office. Comprised of two video installations depicting two different therapy sessions, "I Know You Know" takes psychoanalysis as the inspiration for its format, but the dialogue that unfolds between the therapist (or analyst) and patient (analysand) also concerns itself with one of psychoanalysis's fundamental questions: the problem of freedom-our desire for it, and the complicated, sometimes violent, repercussions of attaining and exercising it. In the first video, Hate You (2014), a female analyst appears on screen, reacting to and conversing with her female patient, who is represented only through the audio track provided by a pair of headphones. The second set of videos, That's Why We End (2012-14), show the same composite female analyst, this time treating a male patient who struggles to remember a recent dream. In both scenarios, the viewer is being asked to take the position of the analysand: to not just submerse ourselves into Cohene's cinematic narrative, but to relate to it as another composite character. Looking beyond her usual source materials (movies she saw or could have seen as a child), the new works draw from the catalogue of films mentioned in Gilles Deleuze's Cinema books from the mid-1980s, a list of more than 230 movies that the French theorist often wrote about from memory, sometimes mistaking details or recalling the wrong character or dialogue from his time in the movie house. Cohene immediately saw the links between Deleuze's idiosyncratic research process and the tenets of psychoanalysis, where the patient's memories and associations, however partial, can be interpreted as symptoms of larger, unconscious psychic processes. Deleuze's approach to film is in many ways mimicked by Cohene's, insisting that our interpretations of cinema are just as-or perhaps even more-significant than the script's original intent. Working in this way not only allowed Cohene a greater variety of found footage to work with, but also freed her to experiment with media outside of the screen, producing sculptures, a painting and even choreographing a dance piece performed throughout the run of the exhibition. "Trying things I've never done before, like making a painting, became a theme for this body of work without me realizing it," she says. Then, among the Hollywood starlets, and the references to French film theory and psychoanalysis, there are always elements of Cohene's installations that are distinctly personal. Her scents, for instance, are custom-made combinations based on her own smell memories. The nebulizer in Like, Like contains, among its ingredients, amber, bergamot, black pepper, Lenor "April Fresh" fabric softener, neroli and a smell derived from a tiny patch of Cohene's childhood security blanket. In You, Dear(2014), the enormous cluster of onyx grapes at Oakville Galleries, it is the Smell of Real Ass(TM)-a specialty scent Cohene learned of from a friend in Japan-that provides the acrid undertone to a combination of cumin, Cyprus, frankincense and aluminum. "Every detail has tobe accounted for," she says. "The goal is to overwhelm the viewer's senses in order to make sense of them."

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: AESTHETICS, Art criticism, Art exhibits, Criticism and interpretation, Exhibitions, Video art, Visual artists
Divisions: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2016 19:34
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2017 07:04
URI: http://openresearch.ocadu.ca/id/eprint/1131

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