From the Mylar Chamber
29 November 2007 to 26 January 2008
Ira Cohen is one of the most outstanding artists of our time. This exhibition will feature Cohen’s famous mylar images which he created in the late 60's in his loft on the Lower East Side, New York City. Among the artists reflected in his mirror were John McLaughlin, William Burroughs, Jimi Hendrix and Angus Maclise. A culmination of the photographer’s fascination with the mirror, these photographs come from the very heart of the mirror from the fabled other side. Located somewhere between Man Ray and Max Ernst, the photographs of Ira Cohen provide a wealth of archetypal images which are not only the real icons of the sixties, but also the icons of the future.
“Looking at your pictures is like looking through butterfly wings”
“Poetic extravagance and poisonous beauty”
Ira Cohen, poet, photographer, filmmaker, traveller was born in 1935 to deaf parents, began developing his vision at one year learning to spell with his fingers. In 1961 he took a Yugoslavian freighter to Tangiers where he lived for 4 years and published Gnaoua, a magazine devoted to exorcism introducing the work of Brion Gysin, William Burroughs and other members of the interzone mob. He produced Jilala, a mythic recording of trance music by dervishes, which was recorded by Paul Bowles. Cohen also directed the "phantasmaglorical" film Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda and produced Paradise Now, a film of the Living Theatre's historic American tour in 1968.
In 1970 he went to the Himalayas where he started the Starstream poetry series under the Bardo matrix imprint in Kathmandu, publishing the work of Paul Bowles, Charles Henri Ford, Gregory Corso and Angus MacLise and developing his art of bookmaking working with native craftsmen. In 1972 he spent a year in San Francisco reading and performing and then returned to New York mounting photographic shows.
Cohen is the artistic director of Universal Mutant, Inc., a foundation established with the help of Judith Malina, Gerard Malanga, and Will Swofford in order to promote and protect the works of insolite / occult / alternative writers, filmmakers and interdisciplinary artists.
In 2006 Cohen’s mylar photographs were included in the exhibition “Summer of Love”, organized by Tate Liverpool, touring throughout Europe and to the Whitney Museum in New York.
The exhibition continues in the rear gallery with a series of Cohen’s extraordinary photographic portraits taken over several decades and is presented in collaboration with Universal Mutant Productions Inc. http://www.universalmutant.com
Through the Mylar Chamber (2007) sound installation curated by Will Swofford, features phantasmaglorical music from Angus MacLise, Loren Standlee, Raja Samyana, Ziska Baum, Tony Conrad, Terry Riley, Jilala, Mahasiddhi, and other members of Cohen’s Universal Mutant Repertory Company.
For photographs from the opening night and poetry reading click here
To see available works and biographical details