PDN Photo of the Day

Rooms Built for Pleasure and Pain

Since the 1970s, Lucinda Devlin has been exploring spaces designed for specific functions and rituals of the human body, from tanning booths to execution chambers. A new show of her work, “Lucinda Devlin: Sightlines,” opens June 24 at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester and runs until the end of the year, following a larger retrospective this spring at the Weatherspoon Art Museum. The show includes selections from three series that share Devlin’s antiseptic approach to spaces where bodies experience pleasure and pain, drawing “attention to the power relationships embedded in a room’s architecture and decor,” the museum writes. In “Pleasure Ground,” Devlin records fantasy hotel rooms and mirror-lined gyms and saunas, exploring the “cultural implications of the spaces we create explicitly for the sole purpose of experiencing pleasure, usually involving our bodies,” Devlin told an interviewer. “Corporal Arenas” includes surgical theaters and hydrotherapy facilities, places where the body is clinically attended to. And in “The Omega Suites,” perhaps her best known work, Devlin documents execution chambers around the U.S., revealing the ways these places embody each state’s bureaucratic approach to death. Despite her focus on the body, there are no people in these rooms, leaving the images open for a viewer to imagine their use. As she said, “Even though people don’t appear in my photographs, they are there by implication.”

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