• Of Unfettered Light and Limitless Energy: An Ecocritical Reading of Gregory Crewdson's Beneath the Roses

    Charles Gleek (see profile)
    MS Visual Culture, TC Ecocriticism and Environmental Humanities
    Item Type:
    Art history, energy humanities, gregory crewdson, Environmental art, Environmental humanities
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    Gregory Crewdson’s cinematic, tableaux photographs often depict an anonymous, banal, and tension-filled life in suburban and rural communities. Working as a self-described American realist and strongly influenced by a tradition of American vernacular artists, including work by Arbus, Eggleson, Friedlander, and Hopper, Crewdson actively seeks to construct or highlight points of tension between landscapes, people, and their communities in the photographs he produces. In his Beneath the Roses project, Crewdson’s application of a multitude of artistic influences informs his production of visual culture; one that is at once pleasing in the way he uses color and light to convey the richness of the every day and provocative in the questions he poses viewers about the quotidian nature of contemporary human life outside of the cityscape. Underpinning these depictions of simply-lived human experiences, Crewdson constructs narratives and sustains assumptions about the very foundation of contemporary American life; namely an uninterruptable and perpetual access to energy. While Crewdson eschews deeper political meanings and critiques of late capitalist culture in Beneath the Roses, his world building --from production processes to thematic representations --rests upon a consumption of and availability to energy that is directly at odds with the very people and places which are the subject of his artistry. By unpacking the broader aspects of Crewdson’s work, I seek to highlight the deleterious effects of Crewdson’s photographs in both ignoring real environmental issues that are impacting the very subjects he is photographing, as well as pointing a way towards rethinking about artistic production and representation in more sustainable ways.
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    6 years ago
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