It’s Nice That: David Lynch’s damn good new MIMA show explores his use of naming


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.

Originally published on It’s Nice That

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