On view through this past weekend at Galerie Templon in Paris, Gregory Crewdson’s newest series, An Eclipse of Moths presents a series of sixteen large scale prints that act like portals into desolate American scenes. First released in 2020, a year that will be remembered for the stark political division and a health crisis that ravaged the country, Crewdson’s work here continues his reputation for cinematic visual languages, which he pursues with a large production team. He goes location scouting, and carefully lights his sets and directs actors as if they were in a film. His cohesive choice of four by eight foot prints allows the viewer to step back to grasp a grand scene that must be approached closely in order to take in the meticulous details, of signals and characters that, despite their distance, communicate with each other.
In this exhibition, Crewdson turns his attention towards another side of a collective American psyche in the forms of impoverished characters placed in dilapidated scenes, shot in a post-industrial city in New England. The first piece on view when entering the exhibition, entitled Redemption Center, presents a building next to the parking with these words displayed in fading paint, punctuating a theme of redemption throughout the series, a kind of vindication for these lonely characters suspended in limbo. There is someone stopped at a yellow traffic light, three children on their bikes observing a truck on fire, an emotionless woman breastfeeding outside of a bar, a man sitting outside in a concrete bathtub next to a friend, yet there is no exchange happening between them. These figures share clear sentiments of longing and incompleteness, but Crewdson’s use of light suggests a feeling of hope, emanating from a street lamp, car headlights, or a police officer’s flashlight. The title of the exhibition, An Eclipse of Moths, comes from the notion of moths gathering at a light source and becoming disoriented, ultimately blotting out the light by the mass of their bodies. Though it seems that they have already exerted themselves, their energy depleted, the characters strive for the light and to receive some kind of rescue from monotony. The distance between the figures, both physical and psychological, and the implied dissociation from their faces connotes feelings that are certainly familiar today.
Gregory Crewdson, An Eclipse of Moths (Installation View), via Art Observed
The images are lush and appear to have been taken just after the rain, with light smears bouncing off puddles on the streets. The landscape is overgrown, with plants pushing through fences and splitting concrete. Most of the images contain fog rolling into the scene in the background, which could imply a spirit or some kind of natural element that may cleanse the environment. He has captured an atmospheric weight within the images, the heaviness that is the current climate of America, yet somehow, there exists a sense of hope and purpose.
The show closed Sunday, but is still open online via the gallery’s online viewing experience.
– A. Gilliams
Gregory Crewdson at Galerie Templon [Exhibition Site]