I wanted to do a piece where I could really become a part of what I was looking at, where the voyeurism that’s inherent in photography could shift over the course of a project. — Liz Cohen
Liz Cohen (b. 1973) is a photographer and performance artist whose decades-long career focuses largely on the intersections of immigration, industry, labor and women’s representation in popular media. Cohen is perhaps best known for her BODYWORK project, in which she simultaneously transformed a dilapidated East German Trabant into an American El Camino lowrider while inhabiting a new identity herself as a car customizer and bikini model. Through this immersive series, Cohen produced a profoundly influential body of work which challenges American cultural norms as they pertain to the eroticization of the automobile industry as well as the challenging role of women’s bodies in that space. Cohen’s most recent series, BODY MAGIC (2020), sees the artist further explore similar themes. In black and white photographs, Cohen poses with the iconic lowrider model Dazza Del Rio in images which make reference to Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs of the bodybuilder Lisa Lyon.
The artist is currently the subject of a solo exhibition, Body/Magic: Liz Cohen, at the Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, through May 2021. In June, Cohen’s work will be included in With Eyes Opened: Cranbrook Academy of Art Since 1932, at the Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills (MI), with an accompanying catalogue. Past solo exhibitions include Liz Cohen: Hydro Force at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond in 2019; Stories Better Told by Others at David Klein Gallery, Detroit (MI) in 2018; Him at the Cranbrook Art Museum in 2015; and Liz Cohen: The Builder and the Bikini Model at the El Paso Museum of Art (TX) in 2009. Recent group exhibitions include Unapologetic at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (AZ), Stories of Abstraction at the Phoenix Art Museum (AZ), and Shapeshifters: Abstraction and Representation in Contemporary Art at the Cranbrook Art Museum, all in 2020. Cohen’s work was also featured in 2011 at the 54th Venice Biennale. Since 2017, Cohen has served as Associate Professor of the School of Art at Arizona State University, Tempe.
In 2020, Cohen received a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. Past awards also include the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Award (2019); the Creative Capital Foundation Project Grant (2005); and a MacDowell Colony Grant (2001).
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