David Lynch's damn good new MIMA show explores his use of naming

Date
14 November 2014
Reading Time
2 minute read

The announcement that David Lynch is to release new episodes of Twin Peaks in 2016 was, unsurprisingly, met with internet-breaking levels of excitement. Soon, every Tommy, Dale and Henry Spencer was walking around their independent coffee shop knowingly harping on about their “damn fine cup of coffee” and popping that heartbreaking Angelo Badalamenti theme on the office stereo like they’d actually watched every episode back in 1990, when they were five.

With all this going on, it’s also been time to revisit Lynch’s numerous other projects – not just his films, but his utterly brilliant music (check out Crazy Clown Time, in particular, if you haven’t already), his peculiar range of women’s sportswear, and his advice on making quinoa

Now, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art is helping us to delve into the superbly strange world of Lynch in staging David Lynch Naming – an exhibition originally shown in Los Angeles that examines how Lynch uses naming in film, photography, drawings, watercolours, painting and prints.

Work in the show dates from 1968 to the present day, and looks to demonstrate how for Lynch, the act of naming is never straightforward – what something is called, and what it represents, are often very different things. This is exemplified in his 1968 student film The Alphabet – described by Lynch as “a little nightmare about the fear connected with learning”, documenting a dream his first wife had about her niece reciting the alphabet.

The show’s curator Brett Littman, executive director of The Drawing Center, New York, says: “The show highlights how in the Lynchian universe the use of words, sentence fragments and the act of naming something is never a simple gesture. They are always vibrating against each other in unusual ways.”

MIMA director Alistair Hudson adds: “As well as creating some of the most arresting films and television of the last few decades, he has also very clearly shaped our day-to-day culture. For example Twin Peaks revolutionised television, reclaiming it as a mass shared experience, the original ‘water cooler’ TV serial. But he also brought complex art ideas, visuals and language into mainstream culture that has really changed the way we communicate and see the world.”

In perhaps something of a double bluff, though, the titles in the images below are mostly very much representative of the image they’re naming. But maybe that’s another of Lynch’s strange twists and turns.

The show runs from 12 December – 26 March 2015.

Above

David Lynch: Fire (3), undated
Courtesy of the artist and Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles

Above

David Lynch: Telephone, undated
Courtesy of the artist and Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles

Above

David Lynch: Factory Building, 2012
Courtesy of the artist and Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles

Above

David Lynch: Untitled (Los Angeles), 1979
Courtesy of the artist and Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles

Above

David Lynch: Spiral, 2012
Courtesy of the artist and Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles

Above

David Lynch: Fire (3), undated
Courtesy of the artist and Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles

Share Article

About the Author

Emily Gosling

Emily joined It’s Nice That as Online Editor in the summer of 2014 after four years at Design Week. She is particularly interested in graphic design, branding and music. After working It's Nice That as both Online Editor and Deputy Editor, Emily left the company in 2016.

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.