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Fireflies: The Photographs of Gregory Crewdson

Fireflies: The Photographs of Gregory Crewdson

In 1996, New York-based photographer Gregory Crewdson spent a summer photographing fireflies each evening at his family's cabin in the Berkshires. While the resulting body of work was a departure from his elaborately staged, large-scale cinematic pictures, "Fireflies" speaks to the most elemental features of photography itself: beauty and meaning derived through light. Twenty-five years later, from June 12 through July 18, 2021, a selection of these small-scale, black-and-white images were on display in BBG’s Leonhardt Galleries celebrating the season's "Taking Flight" theme. 

Says Crewdson about "Fireflies," which were originally shown at Skarstedt in New York in 2006,  “For some almost unknowable reason, I was drawn to photograph the fireflies. To me there’s something so beautiful and mysterious about how they lit up the night sky in twilight. Of course, the light of the firefly is a mating call. So, I was really drawn to this idea of light as meaning, light as desire, and light as in again the most elemental way, as telling the story…we’re in such a different time now, we’re in a time of Instagram and cell phone pictures and selfies, and photography exists in the mass culture in this very democratic and very omnipresent way. These pictures are so removed from that because it’s just film and light, and to me it’s a kind of reminder that can be very meaningful, very profound.” 

The original collection was part of a traveling European survey called Gregory Crewdson: In a Lonely Place, and then shown as a full set at Wave Hill, and SITE Santa Fe, followed by FRAC Auvergne in France in a show called Gregory Crewdson: The Becket Pictures. In BBG’s Leonhardt Galleries, the photographs are presented in a darkened environment to evoke for visitors the atmosphere of nighttime firefly-viewing that inspired Crewdson all those years ago. Read more in The Berkshire Eagle.

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