Sunday, November 11, 2012

In a Lonely Place: Gregory Crewdson + CCP

Yesterday I took a long, slow walk along Smith Street and looked its great array of eclectic shops. I had a coffee and then walked to CCP – Centre for Contemporary Photography to see In a Lonely Place, the exhibition by Gregory Crewdson (USA). There were three exhibition spaces, showing Beneath the Roses – highly constructed, cinematic images, Sanctuary – images of decaying Cinecitta film studios in Rome and Fireflies – a reflection on photography itself through the tracery of fireflies on a summer evening and by nature, small, dark photographs with traces of light.
I must say that on viewing Beneath the Roses and having not yet read anything about this work I was asking myself what was awry with the imagery. The people inhabiting the somewhat expansive, lonely spaces seemed stilted, wooden, and although the scenes suggested film sets (apparently Crewdson shoots his images with the aid of a full film-crew), I initially felt that whilst seductive, that the divisiveness was more over-powering than the final images. However, after spending some time viewing these large-scale photographs I began to enjoy the association, or rather, the way that Crewdson photographs evoked certain films such as some of those made by David Lynch. All the time the powerful photographs of Cindy Sherman entered my mind for her particular and uncanny way of representing self-portrait, still frame images, suggestive of film scenes.
I found it enjoyable attempting to create a narrative from the information in the photographs, but always found more questions than answers, such as, why is the woman standing in the bathroom with that expression on her face?  Does the blood flowing from her genital area mean that she is menstruating or has she just been raped? Who is the pregnant woman waiting for as she crosses the road on a misty morn?  Is the partially naked woman, asleep or dead on the mattress and what is her relationship with the dark-skinned man, sitting with his back to her by the river? What holds the young boy’s gaze as he looks upwards?

The photographs I took depicted only small sections of Crewdson’s large ones, which includes objects of the everyday as well as these characters, which seemed to me to be too contrived, un-real, creating an anxiety about our place on the stage of life (a clich√© perhaps). The images are interesting, sometimes utterly beautiful and disconcerting and certainly worth looking at. If you want to see this exhibition you had better get your skates on because it closes today (Sunday) at 5pm. CCP is located at 404 George Street, Fitzroy, and has free entry.

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