Saturday, 8 January 2011



Untitled (4) 'Sanctuary' 2009,  Framed: 72.4 x 89.5 cm   Pigmented inkjet print
Gregory Crewdson works within a photographic tradition which 'combines the documentary style of William Eggleston and Walker Evans with the dream-like vision of filmmakers such as Stephen Spielberg and David Lynch'. His method is filmic - he builds elaborate sets to take pictures freighted with extraordinary detail and narrative portent. What once fooled us into thinking we were looking at Imperial Rome, historical New York and medieval Italy is now a series of abandoned film sets in Rome, which Crewdson has turned into a set of 41 pigmented inkjet prints.

 Actors and crew members are long gone. What should be a timeless ruin is held together by scaffolding. A street of wooden buildings is punctuated by gaping holes. And the only invaders are trees, vines and bushes, frothy patches which pit themselves against the stark geometry of the buildings. Indeed one particular spiky weed stands upright with military precision shoulder to shoulder wherever it can get a foothold, between cobbles, inside rooms and along kerbs. The prints when framed are an approachable, domestic size.

I usually can’t resist pictures of absent presences, places of abandonment: a meal table after a dinner party, clothes tossed on a bedroom chair, an empty pair of boots by the back door. Crewdson says that he wants the project to be a love letter to the history of classical documentary photography. I think I fail to appreciate Crewdson’s work as much as it deserves. I have, alas, seen far too few films in my life, and lack the tools to decode the references.

No comments:

Post a Comment