Loving the Alien: Gregory Crewdson brings bizarre to a subdivision near you – Culture Quotient – Brief Article
Freud called it “the uncanny” that creepy feeling you get when the familiar suddenly turns alien and frightening. This sensation of foreboding, a staple of the artistic imagination from Goya through the Gothic writers of the 19th century, has found new life in the work of photographer Gregory Crewdson. His evocations of the eerie, introduced to many Americans through last year’s ad campaign for the HBO series Six Feet Under, are now part of a show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Massachusetts.
The Viennese doctor’s actual term was unheimliche, literally meaning the “unhomelike,” an even more apt description of Crewdson’s photos. Working frequently in the town of Lee, Massachusetts, Crewdson transforms its sleepy normalcy into a realm of suburban malaise.
In a series of photos called “Twilight,” people encounter mysterious lights invading their homes and lives from just off camera. In works like “Untitled (boy with hand in drain)” subjects accidentally slip into a hidden world alongside their own. These elaborately staged images can be as complex to shoot as a Hollywood film; they require props, actors and dozens of technicians.
Crewdson agrees that his arresting images are situated very much in a “psychological domain.” He’s no stranger to the couch himself–his father was a psychoanalyst working from a home office in Brooklyn, N.Y. “In the basement there were conversations that I didn’t have access to, that were secret,” Crewdson says. While he acknowledges that the “Twilight” photos generally are “about a certain degree of repression in everyday life,” ultimately, he says, “the pictures are projections of my anxieties, fears and desires.”
“Fantastic” which features work by Crewdson and other artists of the unreal, runs through mid-March 2004. See www.massmoca.org for images and more information.
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