Mark Hogencamp is an artist who works with models. Not ‘won’t get out of bed for less than 10 grand’ or ‘Australia’s next top’ type, in fact not even the Facebook-upload-in-bikini-at-a-lake-taken-by-some-guy-who-works-at-a-video-store-and-is-trying-to-get-his-folio-together-so-now-i’m-a-model type ‘model’. But the small and plastic type.
Marks photos are set during WWII mostly in the fictional world of Marwencol. He uses 1/6 size soldier figurines to reenact both real and fictional battles. Now this isn’t exactly on it’s own something amazingly unique, in fact there are a bunch of different web communities that have a healthy obsession with collecting and photographing war models. (Which Mark is also involved in. Actually the photo above was his submission to an online competition. Where Mark took away the glorious 1st place prize of a $40 Toy store voucher) There may be lot’s of people doing it and some do it well, but still Mark’s photo’s are leaps and bounds infront. He doesn’t just setup scenarios, he gets his plastic to emote. Marks photo’s are so powerful that they hold their own against actual documentary war photography and have done in gallery exhibitions. He is in fact getting more recognition for his art and is the subject of an up and coming doco Welcome to Marwencol.
Mark’s work is also fascinating because of where it comes from. Mark began creating his photos during his recovery from a savage attack by a group of thugs that put him into a coma and left him with brain damage. Using the models Mark has been able improve his motor skills and help heal the emotional wounds that the real life violence left him with. And you can see it all transend into scenarios of revenge and violence againt the SS soldiers that he creates. Mark even has himself as a character in his fictional town where he plays out various storylines. Including encounters with a beautiful time traveling femme from the future who saves his life.
Mark’s stuff is truly amazing and I can’t wait for the doco to come out. Here are a couple of more shots that i’ve found, the crappier quality ones are video grabs and don’t really give the feel that they deserve but give an idea of what he does, including a bride and groom in front of hanging SS soldiers. Just like I imagine my wedding day. Enjoy.
I should mention i haven’t included any photos of Mark out of respect for his privacy, and i hope i haven’t included too much personal detail. I’ve always believed that context is important in art. And I just was really blown away by his photos and i think it’s rare for art to really capture so much. And I’ve seen quite a few exhibitions of documentary photography that don’t come close to capturing what Mark does. People can be physicaly at a war with incredible things happening all around them, but you have to be at war emotionaly to truly represent it.