The coursework asks that we watch a short video on Crewdson’s work, but from a suggestion from a classmate on the FB forum, I watched the film Brief Encounters about his work. I really like his work, even though I usually am not a fan of staged photography that reflects real life. I am usually drawn to staged work that is more whimsical or magical, but this work has something to it that really draws me in.
Below are the questions from the coursework and my answers:
Do you think there is more to this work than aesthetic beauty?
Absolutely. He says that himself that there has to be more than just an aesthetic draw. He creates work that is haunting at times, scary at times, and just too damn real at times.
Do you think Crewdson succeeds in making his work ‘psychological’? What does this mean?
Absolutely! The layers he creates mostly due to the positioning of the actors augmented significantly by the lighting create this feeling that can be felt deep in the guts. Being a middle aged person with kids and a career, he captures that feeling I get–quite often these days–of ‘what am I doing with my life? But they are not depressing in my opinion, they are beautifully pondersome and capture that mundane aspect of the human condition.
What is your main goal when making pictures?
I still don’t know yet. But when I think about when I first started, I mainly take images of things that are pleasing to me but also images that make a statement of some kind.
Do you think there’s anything wrong with making beauty your main goal? Why or why not?
This issue of beauty has been on my mind for quite some time. I think in the art world there is a stigma attached to things that are simply beautiful (which is of course relative) but personally, I think it is OK to make images that are beautiful. I agree with Crewdson in that beauty can’t be all that there is, there needs to be something else that anchors it. But again, this is all very relative. I think pictures of flowers are pretty mundane generally, but then you lay your eyes on one of Mapplethorpe’s flowers, and viola, there is meaning (dare I say punctum?) and something that you carry with you after seeing it. Sally Mann’s images of her dead dog’s bones are also beautiful and haunting–but they are just dried up old bones, but her process is what transforms the mundane into the beautiful. She also commented that her southern landscapes would get some criticism for being ‘too beautiful’ but they are beautiful and the way she photographed them gives them a haunting quality that stays with you. Crewdson does this as well. I mean, how beautiful can a distraught middle aged man or woman be? But when you add his sense of mis-en-scene you have something that is both beautiful and provocative.