Redolent with both sadness and hope Things Aren’t Always as Mother Reports is an extended series of colour portraits and landscapes made in the documentary style through which Paul Cohen interrogates the idea of family. It is a tense document about the here and now.
In the knowledge that photography can sometimes reveal what isn’t always apparent, Cohen made his sons the subject of this work in the hope that he might get to know them in a different way. By engaging in the ritual of photography with their father, Cohen’s sons become performers, enacting the traits of boyhood. The pictures raise questions in the mind of the viewer as to what these boys are about; what they are thinking, feeling and why?
Keen to observe how the place and time in which they live affects them Cohen pays close attention to how they navigate their world and where they sit within it. These pictures provide a glimpse into the boys. They also communicate the concerns of the photographer. Though nothing is explicit or explained, there is vulnerability here; happiness is always on the edge of being lost.
The cumulative effect of these pictures transcends a father’s deeply personal experience to communicate something more universal about boys growing up in the UK today.