Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humor was provided to console him for what he is. - Oscar Wilde
Animation, Art, and Other Shiny Things
There are many a photographer’s nightmare and horrific pictorial evidence that describe the Family Portrait. It’s unfortunate that even the animals that share our life and home are not spared the indignity.
This ongoing project not only draws on my technical knowledge, but also on my childhood influences. Painters such as George Stubbs and John James Audubon impacted my work in a big way. These historic influences are offset by my modern day means of fabrication. These photographic portraits are mostly done on location with minimal post production work afterwards. I want to challenge beliefs of what we think of as historical or authentic, whether it was made yesterday or hundreds of years ago. To blur the lines of time and to engage the viewer in how we interpret history itself.
His portraits evoke the rich, dusty stillness found in old photographs and turn-of-the-last-century textbook illustrations. This isn’t simply antique tinting the picture, by any stretch.
While there is certainly some color work done to mimic film chromatics of a time and the aging since, Mr Pinkham also pays close attention to the setting, lighting, and focus we instinctively recognize as from another era.
Deep-scene painted backdrops, perhaps the subject is lit just a little too brightly, perspective is just a tad off kilter. The details perfect an image out of time.
What is particularly compelling is his choice of subject in this recent series of portraits; animals.
He has given human-subjected photographs the same treatment to nice effect, but they just don’t quite have the other-time-ness the animal series does to my eye.
(yes, that was a dog picture. an unusual occurrence, i know, but don’t let it throw you. here’s an extra cat, if that’ll help)
Marwencol is a small town in Belgium during World War 2. It is completely populated by women – the men having been slaughtered by Nazi soldiers. As the story begins they save a downed American pilot, Captain Hogie who, after he recovers opens a bar that becomes famous for it’s staged “catfights”.
The alter ego of Mark Hogancamp, Captain Hogie is the anchoring character in an ongoing drama that helps Hogancamp rehabilitate himself from a vicious attack that left him brain damaged. Marwencol itself is literally ‘a little town’ at 1/6th scale and is populated by Barbies and other Barbie-sized dolls.
Mark populates the town he dubs “Marwencol” with dolls representing his friends and family and creates life-like photographs detailing the town’s many relationships and dramas. Playing in the town and photographing the action helps Mark to recover his hand-eye coordination and deal with the psychic wounds of the attack. (via)
Events in Marwencol are more than simply parallel allegory or a retreat into fantasy, although they have resonance in both, they give Hogancamp a way to re-discover himself. The attack left big gaps in his memory and abilities; he had to re-learn the basics, to walk, talk, and eat. His coordination and simple ability to think coherently were severely impaired. He has almost no memory of his former marriage, raging alcoholism, Naval service, or stints in jail. He’d forgotten his fondness for women’s shoes and clothing.
Hogancamp’s portraits, if they had been of actual human events, would depict those small unscripted moments of life, not the heroic acts and poses, but what goes on in between. All of it steeped in the fear and sometime brutality of a World War Two-like alternate universe and captured with the eye of a photographer from Life magazine. His sense of position, of body language, is remarkable, and that is what gives Hogancamp’s creations enough heft to easily allow the viewer to replace the peach colored plastic with flesh.
Remember now, this isn’t art by some bohemian in a loft (no, there’s nothing wrong with being a bohemian in a loft, it’s just an example…) but began as a way for Mark to deal with the world around himself after his state-sponsored physical and occupational therapy ran out.
I came across Mr Hogancamp and his art via a documentary called, appropriately enough, “Marwencol“. It is a fascinating look at the man and his unusual art.