David Lynch, 'Small Stories'

Art, Photography
2 out of 5 stars
David Lynch : Small Stories
© David Lynch / Courtesy galerie Item, Paris David Lynch, 'Head #15'

If you excel in a certain field, you're generally best off sticking to it. Even if you're David Lynch. The American filmmaker has dabbled in his fair share of artistic enterprises over the years, and not always to great success: anyone remember those gothic labels for Dom Perignon, or those surreal electro tracks? His output since his last film 'Inland Empire', released in 2006, has been distinctly hit-and-miss – which is why we approached this new exhibition of his photography at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie with trepidation.

And with good cause: the 40-odd photos on display at the MEP bring us back to the nightmarish underworld of amorphous creatures and shadowy corners familiar from Lynch's cinema (particularly early works such as 'Eraserhead'), yet they lack the verve or mad charisma of his best films. We're presented with textbook surrealist imagery – a leek gazing out of a window, an armed doll, hazy lunar landscapes – but with no sense of the narrative structure that the exhibition's name promises. Lynch aficionados can while away a good half hour identifying continuities with the rest of his oeuvre: the photos' fuzzy lo-fi aesthetic reminded us of the scene in 'Twin Peaks' in which we first meet the log lady, for example. Yet these parallels will only leave you nostalgic for his masterworks of yore, to which this exhibition can't even hold a flickering flash bulb, let alone a candle. Bring on his next film.

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