White Columns

Other People's Projects Mark Hogencamp (Esopus Magazine)

Other People's Projects is an occasional programming strand at White Columns in which our project space is offered to idiosyncratic organizations, collectives, publishers, individuals, etc. to introduce their activities and/or enthusiasms to a wider audience.

The fifth project in this series is by Mark Hogancamp, whose work is being introduced by ESOPUS Magazine (www.esopusmagazine.com).

Tod Lippy, the Editor of ESOPUS, has written about Hogancamp's project:

"On April 8, 2000, Mark Hogancamp was attacked by five young men in a Kingston, New York, parking lot. The assault left the ex-navyman, carpenter, and showroom designer in a coma for nine days; he emerged with brain damage that initially made it impossible for him to walk, eat, or speak. State-sponsored physical and occupational therapy helped him regain basic motor skills. But after less than a year he discovered that without insurance, he could no longer afford it. Determined "not to let those five guys win," Hogancamp turned to art as a therapeutic tool. It wasn't the first time: Before the attack, he had filled sketchbooks with intense and accomplished drawings relating to his struggles with alcoholism. But now, a shaky right arm and impaired hand-eye coordination thwarted his efforts.

Frustrated but resolute, Hogancamp reached further back into his creative past. He began by revisiting his childhood hobbies of collecting toy soldiers and building painted models. Commandeering a pile of scrap wood left behind by a contractor, he constructed "Marwencol," a fictional Belgian town built to one-sixth scale in the backyard of his home. He populated it with action figures and dolls representing Word War II personages like Gen. George Patton, as well as stand-ins for himself, his friends, and his family. Finally, he dusted off an old camera and began using it to capture staged events ranging from pitched battles between occupying German and American forces to catfights in a town bar. Through these exercises, Hogancamp sought to regain the capabilities that he recalled having had before the attack. Hogancamp's photographs first appeared in Esopus 5 (Fall 2005). Since their publication, he has added several structures to the town and, armed with a new camera, he has been busily documenting a series of new narratives (stills from which will appear at White Columns for the first time). All of these images evidence Hogancamp's desire to conflate the historical and the personal, the specific and the universal. While he might view them as a means to a continuing recovery, it is impossible not to recognize - in their painstaking execution, obsessive attention to detail, and undeniable emotional resonance - the unadulterated vision of an artist coming into his own."

At White Columns Mark Hogancamp will present a group of color photographs and a scale-model diorama depicting scenes from life in "Marwencol."