On the outside are 11 windows about “Machines, Abstraction and Women,” some involving 3-D elements — Lynch is a big fan of the Alioscopy 3-D process, which he thinks could revolutionize 3-D home viewing technology. On the inside is an exhibition called “I See Myself,” with Lynch’s seven-year-old-comic strip images in lithograph form and a screening room for such early Lynch “gems” as “Six Men Getting Sick.” Walking into the screening room is a violent shock from a room that’s a luminous corona of light into total darkness; it’s like being trapped in “Lost Highway.” “The door is a light trap,” Lynch explains in one of the videos; “because of the configuration of the opening,” the theater can stay dark all the time.
Lynch has never been one to offer the slightest explication of his films, even as he’s enthusiastic about technical details; to this day, even though consensus has emerged on how “Mulholland Drive” works (kind of), he’s refused to weigh in. The same way Tarantino fanboys unpack references over the course of years after each release, Lynch’s movies acquire agreed-upon interpretations over time. So his statements on the Galeries Lafayette exhibitions are some of the most straightforward he’s made about his intentions: “‘I was always fascinated by the spectacle of the women in front of the windows of the department stores,” he explains of the windows. “By designing the fronts of the Lafayette Galleries, I wanted to show all the identities which coexist at the woman of the 21st century.”
The installations depend on a dense skein of allusions to Lynch’s own past protagonists (a quote from Interview Magazine notes the similarities to “Twin Peaks”‘ Laura Palmer and “Blue Velvet”‘s Dorothy Vallens). Lynch’s work has always struck me as torn between a fascination with women and a near-misogynistic terror of sex in all its forms; this exhibition seems like a concentrated, distilled dose of that. Maybe Lynch is more comfortable being clearer when the audience is a lot smaller and it’s “art,” not a mass-release movie, with a convention of an explanatory accompanying artist’s statement. In any case, for diehard Lynch fans, Cooper’s page is a must.
[Photo: One of the “Machines, Abstraction and Women” windows, David Lynch, 2009]