Director Lynched by Adoring Fans in Paris

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Published September 10, 2009

Photos byGéraldine Dormoy

The French have a passion for David Lynch: after winning the Palme d’Or in 1990, the director was also awarded the César for best foreign film twice, and the prestigious Legion d’Honneur in 2007. So, it is hardly surprising that his opening for “Machines, Abstraction and Women” at the Galeries Lafayette, which combine window display and a show at the department store’s gallery, looked more like a moshpit than a civilized gathering of cinema connoisseurs.

At the entrance of the large Hausmanian building, hundreds of fans and journalists—not to mention an impressive number of French actors—gathered in joint hysteria to see the famed director make an appearance. The evening began with a slow tour conducted by Lynch et al., briefly presenting each of the 11 window displays he created. These comprised papier-maché extensions of his elegantly morbid films, the displays from  “Machines, Abstraction and Women”  stay true to the title of the show, combining Tim Burton-esque machineries (with a slight S&M touch) and women (or in some cases, elements of women’s bodies), all of which float in abstract space, complete with stage-lighting and sound effects.“A vitrine looks like a theatre stage,” the director said, “but also gives the impression of looking into a jewelry box.”

Lynch explained that, as with  most of his work, “Women of Influence” are a driving theme in the displays.  Indeed, in each installation, observers will notice similarities to the great, statuesque female characters of his films. One of the windows- a shot-from-above of two heeled feet and legs in a shimmery 80s dress, about to jump from the top of a building – is a clear reference to Laura Palmer, the murdered prom queen in the Twin Peaks series. Another one, a pale, dark-haired female face with a train sprawling out of the mouth is a reminder of femme fatale Dorothy of Blue Velvet, and her famous fellatio scene. Another window features a miniature, gritty kitchen, with a large balloon resembling a feminine face mechanically attached to a sink, recalling a similarly haunted machine–the Lady in the Radiator in Eraserhead.

The cortege then proceeded to La Galerie des Galeries, the department store’s exhibition space. There, “I See Myself” consisted of 60 lithographs, of semi-abstract, eerie comic strip-like illustrations. With titles such like “Two Figures in Bed,” or “Arm of Sores,” the black and white series are marked by the artist’s dark, caustic touch.

Inside the gallery, a specially-installed screening room shows a selection of Lynch’s early short films: unlike his recent movies, which are mainly focused on the depiction of Americana, these present a nightmarish, childhood imagery. There is no limit to which medium befits one’s imagination, Lynch explained, “You could be working on a lithograph and something could trigger an idea for a film and vice-versa. But, he said, “I definitely plan on going back to film.”

Machines, Abstraction and Women is open through October 3. Galeries-Lafayette is locates at 40, Boulevard Haussmann, Paris.