Sunday, March 11, 2007

Gregory Crewdson's Fireflies

I posted briefly about these when I talked about magazines, but I thought they were worth coming back to for their own post. I think the prints would be interesting to see - I haven't even seen the book, just the reproductions in Blindspot. What I do love is when contemporary photography draws the comment "sweet" from my five year old...

Here's some of the show blurb (a little OTT):

In the summer of 1996, Crewdson spent two solitary months at his family’s cabin in Becket, Massachusetts. Using both small and medium format cameras, Crewdson obsessively photographed his subjects illuminating the night sky. Crewdson was drawn to the flickering lights, in part, by the underlying impossibility of capturing their elusive beauty in pictures. For various reasons, the artist chose not to exhibit this body of work until now.

Printed as single editions, these intimate, black and white pictures seem like a radical departure from Crewdson’s recognizable style of large-scale, cinematic photographs. At the core, however, the fireflies share a set of common interests with Crewdson’s oeuvre; a sense of wonder in the nocturnal landscape, light as a narrative event and a fascination with nature as a psychological mystery. Although consistent in terms of their subject matter, these photographs demonstrate a wide scope of visual expression ranging from almost pure abstraction, to more idyllic representations of the natural landscape.

And this excerpt from an article in Village Voice:

The firefly pictures not only give us Crewdson unplugged, they provide a touching clue to the origins of this artist's more popular work. All fireflies that flash are males looking for love. Female fireflies, meanwhile, basically lounge in the grass smoking insect cigarettes and eating bonbons as the males go through this desperate, pathetic attempt to impress them by lighting up the brightest and flying the highest.

It's a perfect metaphor for how hard and to what lengths Crewdson has always been willing to go to gain our attention and how underneath it all he wants to connect. It's also wonderful to be able to look at Crewdson's pictures without him directing our attention this way and that. These pictures show Crewdson simply lighting up rather than manically controlling every inch of the picture.

What I find intriguing in both pieces is a sort of desperate attempt to link these photographs with his more well known work and try and shoe horn them into his "body of work". What I take them for is something simpler: a photographer doing what he does - taking photographs - of something that intrigues him and catches his eye. And, in this case it would seem, something in which he could also find solace.

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