Considered the undisputed master of staged photography, Gregory’s latest series, An Eclipse of Moths, offers empathetic and critical reflection on his own country, currently in the throes of a health and political crisis. As we await the results of the presidential campaign, we see outdoor scenes of a desolate small town in post-industrial New England, perhaps hinting at the world’s fragility, disruption and a collective aspiration to redemption and a quest for transcendence.
It’s the kind of storytelling we’ve come to expect from Gregory. For more than 25 years, his cinematographic and atmospheric photography has been the result of a creative process close to film production in all its logistical and technical complexity. From storyboard and a team of technicians to the choice of locations, sophisticated lighting and actor poses.
Gregory spends months exploring the city he has chosen before finding the different places that serve as backdrops. This time we see a taxi depot, an abandoned factory, a concrete vault and deserted backyards. It’s quite different from his usual choice of intimate interiors that have made him famous; we now see in the background urban landscapes that are both grandiose and disturbing.
The action seems to multiply through several focal points and ambiguous scenes: two coffins abandoned on the road while an empty stretcher waits on the lawn; a motorist immobilized by fallen traffic lights while a man stares at a bottle; a homeless man facing a puddle of rose petals while idle youths hang out in front of a container. Every detail, street name or accessory throws an unexpected light on the palpable loneliness of the characters.
These immobile and lost protagonists aim to evoke the moths chosen for the title of GrÃ©gory’s series, presented at the Templon in Paris from November 7 to January 23, 2021. Why? The gallery explains: âHe chose the image of an eclipse of moths to evoke the phenomenon by which insects, attracted by the artificial lights of the city, group together and lose their bearings. A metaphor for our contemporary disorientation, these works subtly question the vulnerability of the human condition and the paradoxes of the American dream. Never didactic, they leave the viewer free to imagine the stories hidden beneath the surface and to dream of other possibilities.
Born in 1962 in Brooklyn, New York, Gregory Crewdson is a graduate of SUNY Purchase and Yale University School of Art, where he is now Director of Graduate Studies in Photography. His work has been widely exhibited and collected by museums around the world. This will be his fourth exhibition with the gallery in Paris.