White Bread

a photographer’s wonder (bread).

Gregory Crewdson, “Untitled,” from the Twilight Series, 1998.

Gregory Crewdson’s surreal landscapes are at once epic and mundane, grand-historical and absurd. In “Untitled,” from his 1998 Twilight Series (in a bad reproduction here, but the only one available on the web), Crewdson presents towers of Wonder Bread in the woods on the edge of a suburban backyard, SUV and garage just off to the upper-left. Chickens and other birds circle the skyline of white bread among the ferns.

It is a startling mix of mass-produced and natural, of urban-looking stacks of Wonder Bread and a suburban backdrop, yet with a pastoral forest (or is it a more ominous jungle?) that could be an Eden of affluence (or a moldy hell of bird droppings, and soggy crusts). If this is what it means to be white bread (and white bred), there’s much more going on than a lack of flavor: there’s a Babel-like flood of meaning; there’s food and rot, nature and artifice, affluence and decrepitude.

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