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Gregory Crewdson

Dream House, 2002

Photograph | C-Print
73,6 x 111.7 cm. (x12)

The twelve images that make up Dream House (2002) revolve around the disturbance of normality and engage with the fallacy of the home as a place of warmth and understanding in which all of its components lead happy lives. By showing us characters who ignore one another, who turn their backs on one another, who are silent or absent, staring into space, deeply dissatisfied, in these images Crewdson sets out to reveal how the supposed family harmony of the American middle class is based on the permanent acting out of socially assigned roles and the repression of all those aspects that fall outside of the established social norms. The home, incapable of admitting any transgression of or deviation from the norm, thus becomes a domestic container where needs are smothered and desires are sublimated. In these images we see how the sinister lurks behind each of these seemingly trivial scenes to underline the importance of the unseen and the unknown in everyday coexistence. We get the feeling that none of us really knows what the other (or even we ourselves) may end up saying or doing; that what may happen at any moment — what situation of aggression or violence may occur if the close bonds that unite us under one roof are broken — is a mystery.


With this desolate view of the average American household as a labyrinth of individual solitudes where it is evidently impossible to communicate with the other, we are in the presence of a systematic deconstruction of the myth of happiness in the American way of life, which makes clear, through the use of an acidly ironic language, the profound fragility that pervades the lives of the various characters that appear in these images: individuals confined within the four walls of a comfortable house and enjoying a more than secure socio-economic position, who are nonetheless paralyzed by personal frustration, self-absorption and the most absolute experiential isolation.


In his photographs, Gregory Crewdson cultivates a pair of closely related feelings: on the one hand, that of estrangement (from an environment that is almost always perceived as hostile), and on the other, that of strangeness (from and towards a self that never manages to recognize itself). It is as if his images were inviting us to contemplate reality from its thresholds, daring us to explore the limits while vacillating between interrogation of the future and fear of the unknown. In effect, his vision opens up cracks in the integrity of reality and represent what seems to be about to happen (an accident, a mistake, a disaster…). At the same time, in his compositions we find characters who are adrift, individuals who seem to have lost their bearings, who no longer have a role assigned them in the story being told, who have abandoned their place in society and embraced a sense of the void that displaces them and leaves them floating in a state of dérive, thus making them borderline subjects who can find no path or place in this environment that seemed to be theirs.

José Miguel G. Cortés


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