Todd Hido has been part of the photographic landscape since the 1990s. His work has been shown in numerous museums and at international art fairs and festivals; these include the Museum of Modern Art in San Franscisco, the Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles, and the Whitney Museum in New York. Todd Hido made a name for himself with House Hunting, which is the source of some of the images in this exhibition. In this series, his very first, Hido looks at American suburban homes at night. The images show houses bathed in streetlight as if they were floating in elaborate crepuscular glow. The only sign of human presence are the windows: shut, but illuminated from within.
Light as a narrative
Without any staging, yet using impressive framing and lighting techniques, Hido manages to turn a still image into a story. He says that he loves creeping up to houses at night to photograph them because they stir his imagination: what are the inhabitants doing? What are their lives like behind these walls and windows?
Apart from portraits, Todd Hido never stages his photos. Lighting, framing, and his relationship to indices are enough to lend his images a mysterious, polysemic dimension. What matters to Hido is being able to capture a certain luminosity in order to convey the spirit of the moment. He handles light with mastery thanks to his powerful relationship with shadows and darkness.
Simple, subtle techniques
Hido’s images are murky and swathed in fog, often to the point of discomfort. This is a sensation often felt before his latest series, Bright Black World, which depicts a post-apocalyptic world. As the photographer explains, these images, taken in Northern Europe, are meant to portray the period of crisis and tension we are now experiencing, both in terms of politics and ecology: “There is no question that this work is about the physicality of climate change that is occurring now. Unless you are in full-blown denial, as unfortunately many people are, these changes are coming far quicker than anybody expected…”
While he also photographs luminous skyscapes and atmospheric expanses, it is in order to hone his technique. Thus, in his latest series, he often manages to create images from behind the wheel of his car, playing with raindrops, effects of condensation, and the distance to the windshield.
A true cinematographer of the still image, Hido is also a photographer of imprints: he examines not just the traces humans leave in the landscape as they reshape and inhabit the world, but also records, insofar as it is possible in photography, the fragility of the moment and the melancholy that settles within it. He is a dark romantic whose hazy images come to resemble paintings: there is good reason why his name is mentioned alongside the painter J.M.W. Turner…
By Sophie Puig
Todd Hido, Light from Within
September 6 – October 19, 2019
Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire, 17 rue des Filles du Calvaire, 75003 Paris