5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
'Grabshots' Illuminate the Grim Streets of Wilkes-Barre, PA, Aug 24, 2023
Mark Cohen is a restless poet of a photographer. In GRIM STREET he demonstrates his enormous ability to grasp a winking moment of life in the back streets, isolated fleeting views of the ordinary made extraordinary. This very fine book of photographs is less attuned to compositionally correct images as emotionally charged ones. As such it is a monograph of the smarmy, dark, seedy and at times embarrassingly immediate life of the underbelly of America as represented by the streets of Wilkes-Barre, PA.
Cohen's successful forays in to this territory are accompanied by 'interviews' conducted by Anne Wilkes Tucker and Thomas Southall. The composite result is a book that 'reads' like a novel and will remain compelling present in the mind's eye long after perusing it. Fine work! Grady Harp, August 05
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Grim Street, Feb 11, 2023
"A lot of it is mood driven, but I don't exactly know where the motive and inspiration to take pictures comes from. So it's very spontaneous work; there's not a lot really to plan." So it would seem at first glance upon Mark Cohen's masterful collection of work presented in his first (and hopefully not last) book Grim Street . From this revealing quote by the author, we are lead to believe that Cohen himself discovers in his darkroom much of the beauty portrayed in his work.
As anyone who has followed Cohen's work knows, Mark has been influenced greatly by the renowned street photographer Cartier-Bresson with his ability to capture the unfolding "decisive moment." But Cohen's work is anything but unfolding, on the contrary; it is literally in-your-face obtrusive, grabbing on film fleeting sublime moments, otherwise lost forever in eternity. One can almost amusingly imagine Cohen, armed with his trade mark flash and wide angle lens, scurrying around a photo-opportunity with Bresson. While Bresson contemplates from a distance the "decisive moment" to release the shutter; Cohen (in his own words) uses "grab shots" often without even the use of a viewfinder to capture what could be called "multiple moments." It is apparent from this exquisite body of work that Mark Cohen is the heir apparent to the recently deceased Bresson, and, one might say, an "impatient" 21st Century updated version of the master.
Ignoring for a moment the obvious psychological and sociological content of Cohen's work, the visual subject matter of Grim Street is indeed at first glance difficult to digest. It is anything but "cheery", often times seedy, sometimes voyeuristic, and occasionally downright lascivious. But the ultimate irony is that these qualities of course are passing and superficial, as fleeting as Cohen's flick of the shutter. For it's only with pausing and contemplating the work that the disquieting subject matter "disappears" and the true mastery reappears. That perfect wisp of hair, that "just so" turn of a cat's tail, that flawlessly lit foreground and carefully nuanced background, those repeating diagonals inside exquisite compositions, and all the artistic universals that forever have withstood the test of time, are there to be discovered in this collection.
May this reviewer be so bold as to suggest an answer to Mr. Cohen's own query about the source of his inspiration referred to earlier? A grim street is down-and-dirty, mean and often times dangerous. Surely there is no inspiration to be found in such a secular reality, unless one has the genius and magical gift to capture a transcendent glimpse of a more perfect place. The source of that gift, the inspiration is not temporal. Undoubtedly we're all traveling on a type of "grim street." Thank God we have inspired and graced artists such as Mark Cohen to give us an occasional glance at our idyllic destination.