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Gregory Crewdson

Untitled (blue period), 2004

Photograph | C-Print
143 x 221.5 cm
GC.0004-

 

Hotel rooms, their images and evocations, are associated with a certain melancholy, a hint of dispossession and a kind of non-being. Memory relates the hotel rooms occupied by women to a particular artist from whom Crewdson no doubt drew inspiration in his constructions of interiors loaded with emotion which can only be experienced in silence. That artist is Edward Hopper, the American painter who influenced and incorporated a special vision which Crewdson shares: a vision related to the cinema. Like Hopper, Crewdson halts scenes and settings, freezes them not only in time but also in their silence, and, within that silence, the characters are the actors in a fiction that speaks through a particular psychological tension, though there is no way of knowing what that tension responds to. That uncertainty goes with ignorance of the before and after which is typical of photography. When that information is withheld from the spectator, he has to create his own fiction from the clues left in the image. Real clues and red herrings which must make us pause: the open suitcases, the clothes removed and scattered over the floor, the three mirrors that reflect and provide more information, the open doors, the bluish half-light of the bedroom and the bathroom lit up; but, most of all, the woman’s naked body, wrapped in thought or absorbed in something she cannot get out of her mind, after taking a bath or a shower as soon as she arrives from her journey and has taken possession of the room. There is a contrast between the order before the room is occupied and the disorder brought in by the occupant, verging on a kind of negligence that could be the result of the exhaustion of the journey or something more personal about the new inhabitant: the undyed roots of the hair may provide more information here. All these clues are important if we want to enter the fiction proposed by the artist, since we know that its author has put it there almost obsessively, with an extreme meticulousness.

In Hotel Room (1931) by Edward Hopper we also see a woman deep in thought, who has stripped off her clothes, her formality in front of other people, and who also ends up taking temporary possession of a new space that will be her home for who knows how long. As in Crewdson’s photograph the high-heeled shoes are on the floor, the suitcases have not been unpacked, but the character-occupant is focused-distracted by something she cannot forget. If the arrival at the hotel during the night heightens the sensation of a reality different from the everyday one, in Morning in a City (1944), also by Hopper, in a room lit by a light which – like Crewdson’s image – is dominated by a strange greenish blue, a naked woman is looking through the window. She is also wrapped in some thought, perhaps something she has seen outside has reminded her of whatever it is she cannot get out of her head. With their hair back too, all these naked women, all these hotel rooms, speak of conventions and formalisms of temporary inhabitation and the difficulty of fleeing what we cannot get out of our heads.

Juan Antonio Álvarez Reyes

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