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todd hido, loneliness at heart

Thursday, September 15th, 2016 | T: lamono

Having a home, a place to rest during the night, is like retrieving that abode where all of our childhood memories still reside. Sadly, these are already gone, and all that’s left is a mixture of nostalgia and agony. Todd Hido wanders between loneliness, love and the strange singularity that drives his passion; amidst this aura, he roamed around America’s suburbs, capturing houses in the distance and the darkness. With his series Homes at Night, he introduced us to a universe of unknown homes, then, with Interiors, the desolation of homes that are no longer, because sometimes absence evokes more than just one meaning. T: Felipe Duarte

www.toddhido.com

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You’ve said in past interviews that the works from your series Homes at Night, Interiors and Portraits, tell the story of your life. If you had to summarize this story into words, how would it be? As Jacob Reis said, “If I could tell the story with words, I would not need to lug a camera.” Complicated love story? The spaces we inhabit can certainly be indicators of the quality of life being lived, or having been lived, in that space. I’ve always said that these pictures I’ve done are actually portraits. I feel like while they may not be precisely descriptive of the inhabitants, they certainly capture the mood that I have imposed upon them. I’ve always said the meaning of an image resides in the viewer.

In most of your works the concept of loneliness evolves and turns into a very perceptible feeling. Sometimes this is achieved by depicting isolation and, as you have said, being alone when shooting. Is this intentional? If so, through which other means do you manage to accomplish this? Perhaps my subconscious intentionally draws me into things that call up this lonesome feeling. But it’s not something I deliberately set out to find or make or forge, it’s simply there, and it is a filter that I reflect through.

It’s different to be alone than to feel lonely, while you’re shooting is this feeling present? What does it mean to you? Well, unfortunately, I know that you can be with someone and feel lonely, so it is different. When I’m shooting, I’m rarely feeling low, because I’m making, and making things makes me feel delighted.

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“What must a house have to be considered a home? A place to rest your head”

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Referring to your series Homes at Night and Interiors, what must a house have for you to consider it a home? Do you intent to convey this concept through these photographs? Actually it needs very little. I recall this one time I stayed in a little adobe apartment complex in Santa Fe, and the bedroom was in a separate building, across a courtyard from the living quarters, and the bedroom had in it absolutely nothing other than a bed. It was the most poetic and beautiful little spot that I’ve slept in; there was something about having a single room with a single purpose. There was a purity in that I found to be quite refreshing. What must a house have to be considered a home? A place to rest your head. In my Interior photographs, I’m conveying this concept by showing the absence of that, showing that these are no longer homes. They are just places that people were. Even in the ones that have a bed in it, they’re clearly absent and that feeling is heavy in the air, intentionally.

 

Talking about feelings, what must a landscape or a building inspire in you for you to capture it? Beauty? Nostalgia? Melancholia? Hopefully all of the above, but sometimes it’s just the light on a tree.

 

Aperture will soon publish a mid-career survey book with your body of work. What can you tell us about it? How has the curation and creation process? As well, it’s a good moment to ask if you remember the first time you held a camera and felt that it was going to be your life-long occupation. The first camera I got, my silly parents did not think, or know, to tell me about the rewind knob and the button that released the film on the bottom of the camera. I shot a roll, tried to rewind it, and it broke. I was devastated, though that’s a funny story now. I never had that “a-ha” moment, but there’s a picture in my new mid-career survey published by Aperture, titled Intimate Distance, which is a chronological album of my photographs laid out in the order that they were made. Of course we could not include everything, but I carefully selected groupings of images that not only spoke to me but also told a story about how my process developed as a photographer. There’s a picture in there, image #31, which was the 31st roll of film I shot, and it’s a picture of a young woman standing by the edge of the pool. It’s very Hopper-esque and it has the entire mood you’ve spoken of in my work that’s been present since the very beginning.

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Do you consider photography to be your passion? Absolutely it’s my passion, but I’m passionate about many things. But photography has been the single and consistent love of my life.

The vast majority of your work is shot in color, with the exception of some portraits and maybe one landscape. Why is this? What makes you shoot in black and white? Some things are better in black and white. How do you figure that out? I often shoot with two or three cameras, one of them being black and white, and I pick the one that speaks to me those most.

Amongst your teachers we can find some great photographers such as Harry Callahan and Sultan Larry; if you had two choose two advices they gave throughout your career, to pass on to the next generation, which would they be? I must correct you and say Harry Callahan wasn’t directly ever my teacher, but he was the teacher of all of my teachers when I lived in Boston and went to the Museum School. However, one of the things that was passed on to me through his students, my teachers, was this sense that every image you make has to stand by itself. If it has to be propped up by other images to be successful, it isn’t. And Larry, he taught by example, but also very directly showed me that the best way to make artwork that means something is to draw it from within.

This issues theme is SWEET HOME, which one do you consider to have been your sweetest home so far? Why? My sweetest home is not in my pictures, it is where I live right now, a house that I have lived in for the past 15 years and coddled and fixed and curated every single inch of it to be filled with the things I enjoy being with.

Besides the survey book, what are you currently working on? I am hard at work on a new body of work entitled Bright Black World, that is a total departure from my work in the suburbs. It came form reading a book about Norse mythology. I was particularly inspired by the concept of fimbulvinter, which was their greatest fear, an endless winter.

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