Back in mid-2014, with the announcement of the forthcoming David Lynch exhibition at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima) we all got a bit Lynch obsessed. Like the release of a new album or film by your favourite artist, director or actor, it became an excuse to revisit the back catalogue and remember all the reasons you were a fan in the first instance. Whilst Northern Film & Media (NFM) worked with mima to programme Painting in Perpetual Motion: Art, Film, TV and David Lynch; rumours started circulating suggesting that the long awaited sequel of David Lynch’s defining serial Twin Peaks was in the pipeline. It was David Lynch season.
The David Lynch Naming exhibition at mima (12 December 2014 – 26 March 2015) curated by Brett Littmann, demonstrated the interconnected though complex relationship between language and visual imagery which has been a central concern of David Lynch throughout his long and productive artistic career. Bringing together 46 artworks from his student film The Alphabet in 1968, up to mixed media works from 2012 such as Spiral (Figure 1), Littmann establishes how Lynch's fascination with the relationship between words and visual imagery continues unabated, and can be seen across his various artistic endeavours.
Back in February Amy Roberts and I were invited to Newcastle to talk about Fire Walk With Me as part of Northern Film Media’s “Painting in Perpetual Motion: Art, Film, TV and David Lynch” series. Upon meeting we quickly realized that we had far more to say on the topic of Lynch and his idiosyncratic explorations of narrative then was reasonable for a post-screening discussion.
‘Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain’ goes the line towards the end of the ‘Wizard of Oz’, when Dorothy and her entourage discover that the Wizard of legend is not an omnipotent icon and towering genius, a fearsome name that carries all before it and is known across the globe, but simply an illusion, a trick of smoke and mirrors, powered by a man, just like any other man, who happens to know how to work the controls…