Revived and Remade

Many photographers recreate, and pay homage to other photographers and regularly artist through their work. Many do this through straightforward representation. Recreating moments exactly or putting modern twists on the same scene and narrative as in the original work.

“Postmodernist cirques of photographic imagery have been an invitation both to practitioners and to viewers to explicitly acknowledge the cultural coding that photography mediates.”1

Some create parodies or pastiches of the work adding humor to the mix. A parody sets out to mock and ridicule the original, where as a pastiche creates more of a satire without the negative intent.

One photographer that is well-known in this genre is Gregory Crewdson. His images are created on a massive scale and are regularly compared to and made to resemble film stills.  His work takes the dream like style of film directors such as Stephen Spielberg and David Lynch and, instead of creating entire movies; he builds enormous sets to take one image.

I am a huge fan of Crewdson’s work, as I love the scale and mostly the narrative he includes. I find his work is really personal as no one is likely to see the same narrative and create the same situation in their head as you do. Everyone can relate to the images, as they

Gregory Crewdson, Untitled, 2001

are quite general, but your cultural influences and personal experiences make you pick out different details and see the situation differently to the person next to you. I love trying to create elaborate stories for the scene that are as extravagant and epic enough to match the image.

This image by Crewdson immediately makes me think of the Speilburg film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I can imagine someone hiding in the small bush trying to avoid the aliens. Speilburg’s alien films always seem to involve a typical American suburban street and I feel this scene matches. The image feels eire with the twilight looking sky and the darkness on the street. This atmosphere makes you think of more sinister narratives.

‘I have always been fascinated by the poetic condition of twilight. By its transformative quality. Its power of turning the ordinary into something magical and otherworldly. My wish is for the narrative in the pictures to work within that circumstance. It is that sense of in-between-ness that interests me.’ – Gregory Crewdson

Demi Moore, Annie Leibovitz, 1991

Another photographer, who goes for the more pastiche and satirical approach is Karl J Kaul. He takes well known images, mainly portraits, and recreates them with modern celebrities to create funny and slightly mocking representations.My favourite Kaul image is the one of Johnny Vegas parodying the Annie Leibovitz image of DemiMoore, pregnant on the Vanity Fair cover. I find it funny and charming. Johnny

Johnny Vegas, Karl J Kaul, 2006

Vegas is well known for mocking others and for being fat, and this image manages to capture his public persona perfectly.

The original image by Leibovitz was deemed controversialwhen it was first published, as she is naked and pregnant. It wasn’t deemed as ‘proper’ for a pregnant lady to expose herself. The controversy makes the image well known, people want to see the image that has caused this scandal, so purposefully seek it out. This makes the image perfect for parody, and pastiche, as the viewer need to be able to recognise the original image in the remade. Plus if they know the controversy that it caused, it makes the parody funnier.



1 Charlotte Cotton, The photograph as contempary art, Pg. 19

2 Gregory Crewdson – (01/11/12)


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