Photography: David Lynch’s Small Stories


“Still images can contain stories. Mostly, still images contain small stories. And, as it happens, sometimes there are interesting stories that are small. Small stories take place during a very short period of time. However, the mind and emotions can become engaged by looking at a still image, and small stories can grow into huge stories. It depends, of course, on the viewer.

It’s almost impossible not to find some kind of story emerging from a still image. This, I think, is a beautiful phenomenon.”
– David Lynch

Lynch’s artist statement doesn’t tell us anything new that we didn’t learn in first year philosophy, or at the conclusion of an impossible argument. But it is, particularly in its closing lines, a celebration of what keeps Lynch adding to the troubling and beautiful world of his artistic career; one first and foremost as film-maker and auteur, but also as painter, musician and in this case, photographer.

Small Stories is Lynch’s most recent photographic exhibition, held at the Maison Europeenne de La Photographie Ville de Paris, featuring 40 black and white photographs made in 2013, especially for this show. A rare Carte Blanche offering of total creative control, Lynch’s tonal motifs of deep reds, greys, blacks and whites wrap the gallery’s walls, positioning us again in Lynch’s familiar world, one that is insular, self-referential and self-concerned.

The photographs present glimpses into “small stories”, simple scenes from the unconscious, quietly off-kilter, and unnervingly enhanced by the viewer’s own self-conscious and scopophilic presence. Signature interiors of low ceilings and disturbed inhabitants, portraits of shop windows occupied by over-sized, unassuming objects. A line of candles on a midnight beach. A series of heads, deconstructed until only the silhouettes remain.

Lynchophiles – for those overwhelmed and desperate with the 25th anniversary of Twin Peaks upon us, keep your eye out for the image where something suspiciously close to a body wrapped in plastic hovers in the background.

Lynch’s dreamscapes are the refined, visual representations of an artist nearly 40 years into his career as a high profile creative. This is not a disappointing show. Just don’t look at the teaser trailer up on Youtube.

Small Stories is up until March 16, 2014.

Entrance to the Maison Europeenne de La Photographie Ville de Paris is 8 €, or 4.50 € for those under 26.