A ten year quest to create a series of surreal portraits of small town American life
By Patricia Hallam on November 23rd 2014
This week we recommend this feature length biography of Gregory Crewsdon, a still photographer who recalls a childhood fascination with the work of his father, a psychoanalyst who saw his patients in the family basement.
For his series, Beneath the Roses, Crewsdon painstakingly constructed images, scenes or moments, that allow us to create our own narrative or connection. Crewsdon admits to being greatly influenced by David Lynch's Blue Velvet too, and you can clearly see this influence. That aside, his work remains original and fresh.
'Melancholy is integral... Frozen in a cheap motel room or a snowbound diner, his subjects pose with beaten-down expressions.' - NY Times
Crewsdon focussed on depressed towns of Western Massachusetts, and with a massive crew of up to 60 people he aimed to make around 8 final images. Detailed scenes that required months of preparation were snapped in one moment - a perfect moment. Still, the frames were not perfect and went into a rigorous post-production process to strip down the scenes even further.
Shapiro shot this documentary over 10 long years. He not only achieves a portrait of the enigmatic artist, but also captures the process required to create a moment, or a feeling in the viewer.
His scenes are like nods toward artistic processes of the past. These images of everyday scenes remind us of the great renaissance paintings that documented the people and cultures of an era, as Beneath the Roses creates for us a feeling for our recent times.