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Todd Hido

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notes / statement:

Skulking through the edges of nocturnal suburbia, Bay area photographer Todd Hido transforms images of these banal environments into something rich and strange. In the light of day, the average passerby frequently perceives this subject matter as a dreary mind-numbing landscape, a series of architectural monotonies fermenting repetitive narratives. But under the cloak of night, Hido discovers the inherent drama of cinder block warehouses, middle-class tract homes, roads to nowhere.

Hido shoots at night, prowling the streets as voyeur skilled in surveillance. He zeroes in on the victim house whose appearance yields the perfect combination of pictorial ingredients. Everything must remain tomb-still while he shoots long exposures of up to 10 minutes. What results are haunting images of forgotten homes filled with lonely absences and bathed by a desolate streetlight or punctuated by a solitary illuminated window.

The damp coolness of the night air is palpable, whether veiled in gothic fog or wrapped in footstep-traced snow. This chill mirrors the photographer's detached viewpoint, as he remains distinctly non-judgmental towards his subjects.

Just as darkness can render the familiar frightening, Hido's masterful use of nuanced light and his subsequent coaxing in the darkroom alter the psychological tone of his subjects. In his color C-prints, light bleeds out into the night from within the structures, a forlorn confession of private dramas possibly sad, seedy or just plain tired.

One cannot help but feel a bit thrilled and uneasy experiencing these charged settings. The pleasurable frisson of voyeurism is offset by an anticipation of witnessing something momentous, possibly violent, sordid or heartbreaking. The house becomes a blank screen onto which we can project all kinds of stories and meanings forged by memory and imagination. Hido shows us that the city's outer edges are indeed theatrical places where anxiety and beauty can co-mingle.