Industrial dreams

The director David Lynch's black and white photographs of factories affirm his penchant for dark, surreal imagery.

While David Lynch is known as an icon of American cinema thanks to films such as Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive and Blue Velvet, as well as the cult TV series Twin Peaks, his photographic work is largely unknown. 

Lynch's photos of factories in Europe and the US, taken over a period of almost 20 years, feature in a traveling exhibition that recently made its debut at Photogallery MAST in Bologna, Italy. The Factory Photographs presents a selection of photographs taken in and around Berlin, Poland, England, New York City, New Jersey and Los Angeles.

It leads viewers "through the forlorn spaces, chafing against layers of paint peeling back from walls, peering out through barred windows, with an almost physical sensation of the gloom and grime: metal doors, handles, bent pipes, manhole covers, ventilation fans, heavy iron chains and enigmatic letters and numbers," says Urs Stahel, curator of Photogallery MAST.

The exhibition, originally curated by Petra Giloy-Hirtz, also features some of Lynch’s earliest short films and audio compositions that already show his attraction to dark, menacing images that challenge our perception of reality.

He explains his penchant for darkness in the book Lynch on Lynch: “Black has depth… you can go into it... And you start seeing what you're afraid of. You start seeing what you love, and it becomes like a dream.”

The Factory Photographs is on show at MAST until 31 December 2014.