Without distinction and beyond any hierarchal structures, Maxi Cohen has photographed every public restroom she's encountered throughout her travels. Whether together with film stars or cleaning staff, she has fulfilled her distinct artistic mission. The photographer's shots pay no attention to superstructures, instead they tell the tale of women just as they are behind the scenes.
In "Ladies Rooms Around the World," Cohen's lens is always directed at the mirror, where she appears as an intruder in a private world, uncovering the daily rituals that are repeated across the globe, from glamorous ceremonies in Los Angeles to airport restrooms in New York. Cohen immortalizes whomever she encounters in her democratic approach to the photoshoot. Each scene is treated with care and a certain reverence, whether on tour in Australia or in the discotheques of Zambia, restrooms at the Cannes Film Festival, bathrooms at a Samba school in Rio, or a casino toilet in France.
It all began in 1978 at the Miami Film Festival Festival, Cohen writes of her remarkable project: "To escape the boring awards dinner at the hotel ballroom, I retreated to the ladies room. Enchanted by the octogenarians adjusting their corsets and false eyelashes, I took a camera from my purse and photographed the camaraderie of their tribal dance within this temple of porcelain and silver."
The artist writes of the intimacy and vulnerability she discovered in these rooms around the world. The resultant photographs are undeniably intimate, their eras suggested by the chromatic differences apparent from one shot to the next. Warm colors alternate with cool shades, marking places and decades, but the protagonist remains the same: the female universe, told through the beauty of its own rituals.
This post first appeared on HuffPost Italy. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.