Philip-Lorca diCorcia is an important figure in the contemporary photography scene. His deceptively simple images of everyday life explore the psychology and emotion behind seemingly banal scenarios. His carefully large-scale photographs blur the line between documentary realism and the theatrical; some scenes are staged, others appear entirely as found, others are an intriguing combination of the two. Deliberate decisions have been made, arranging real people with real stories (including the photographer's own ex-mother in law) into intriguing narratives.

For East of Eden these constructs explore the overarching theme of a society that is suffering. The exhibition's title is derived from a novel by the great American author John Steinbeck, an author intrinsically linked to tales of destitution and economic woe. Steinbeck's novel of the same name shares many parallels with stories from the Bible's Book of Genesis, and East of Eden follows this same inspirational route. The photographs here are allegorical representations of a variety of biblical stories, set in the context of a modern America bruised after the recent economic disaster. 

DiCorcia's photographs are beautiful. Refusing to give in to the ever-encroaching digital revolution, this photographer still uses traditional analog technology. His large-format film camera allows for monumental prints that dwarf the viewer and a level of detail that is mesmerising. DiCorcia also tries to avoid employing any digital manipulation techniques wherever possible. In After The Fall (2012) for example, he explains that such techniques have been sparingly used to preserve privacy and remove any legible names from the photographed gravestones, but all the other photographs in this exhibition have been achieved through perseverance and a few fortunate random occurrences. It took a lot of patient watching of a freeway in San Joaquin Valley, California (2008) before two identical cars appeared together, cars diCorcia imagines to be driven by Adam and Eve as they flee from their fallen Paradise.

DiCorcia, a native New Yorker, travelled the breath of his homeland to for this project. The carefully-manicured homes in suburbia contrast greatly with the wilds of the West, but both are examples of a crumbling American Dream, a "fall" from a prior Eden. Stockton, California (2009) shows a home in the first American town to file for bankruptcy, whilst the painterly effect in Sylmar, California (2008) shows a landscape ravaged by fire. 

There are plenty of interesting juxtapositions between the 11 photographs in this exhibition. The gallery itself, two floors of an opulent converted townhouse in the centre of wealthy London, is a world away from the financial strife explored in the work. We also find a stereotypically tough male character immobilised in a medical device, whilst it's the female stripper in Epiphany (2009) who displays real strength as she hangs suspended, spider-like, in the mirrored web of the Jumbo's Clown Room strip club. Here she is also used as diCorcia's metaphorical interpretation of the ultimate temptress. In several interpretations of the Biblical story it is Lilith, the original woman before Eve, who ultimately leads to the fall of Eden, not the devious serpent.

Even the dogs come from two opposite worlds: pampered porn-watching pooches, compared with the working dogs who act as eyes for their blind owners. When discussing his work during the exhibition's private view, diCorcia explained his desire to work with blind models and to explore their relationship with the visual world. Finding willing participants proved to be difficult thanks to an inherent distrust in photography and its potential to be exploitative. Luckily he did. These images are some of the best. The faces of those in Lynn and Shirley (2008) are simultaneously stoic and vulnerable, humble and proud. The staging is simple, but poignantly effective.   

The photographs in East of Eden are all beautifully intriguing on their own, but at times it feels like this is a highlight show; an assemblage of taster pieces from an array of other, very different projects. These photographs have developed organically as the photographer reacted to the changing world around him, but they come from disparate original ideas that have over time become amalgamated under one umbrella theme. The concept is an interesting one, but it needs a lot of explanation and I believe some of the photographs would do better without the biblical anchor. East of Eden is however an ongoing project and I'm curious to see how it is resolved.

Philip-Lorca diCorcia: East of Eden, at David Zwirner LondonStacey Harbour reviews Philip-Lorca diCorcia's East of Eden at David Zwirner gallery, London.3