Todd Hido is an American photographer best known for his disquieting, documentarian imagery. Hido's portraits of people, places, and interiors use light, ambiguity and emptiness to access an instinctual narrative engagement residing in existential truths, fears and the familiarity of both place and perceptions of isolation.Read More
Hido was born in 1968 in Kent, Ohio, and grew up in a suburban neighbourhood surrounded by cornfields. His childhood and upbringing inform much of his subject matter, searching for the familiar imagery of stand-alone houses and the expansive suburban areas produced by the 1960s and 70s expansion of American city limits.
While Hido took photographs throughout his childhood, he credits his teenage years as the true start of his career, when he and his friends would document their endeavours as BMX bikers.
After taking a photography course in high school, he went on to a two-year degree programme at a technical school before pursuing his B.F.A. at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Tufts University. He followed a few years later with an M.F.A. from the California College of Arts and Crafts, where he was mentored by well-known conceptual photographer Larry Sultan.
Hido's most notable body of work is possibly his 'Homes at Night' series (1996–2014). Shot over a decade in a single San Francisco neighbourhood, Hido spent years driving the streets in his car, looking for homes that had one, two, or a sparse few windows lit from within. Using a long exposure, he describes his process as shooting like a documentarian, printing like a painter. The un-staged, unaltered, empty imagery shrouded in the city's rising fog produced haunting, cool scenes that invite inquiry into the private lives of the invisible people residing within the homes.
The emptiness, abated by an unseen presence, that permeates 'Homes at Night' can also be found in his 'Interiors' series. Abandoned homes with leftover furniture, light stained walls, populated areas unpopulated, they draw on a kind of liminality—spaces between states, stuck in limbo neither becoming, nor becoming undone. It is that isolation and subversion of expectation that makes his photography so powerful, so familiar yet so unsettling.
Hido describes photography as 'the corner between literature and film'. Combining existential texts with the destabilising visual narratives of horror and apocalyptic film, with his deft documentarian eye, he suggests worlds unseen and unknown through the intimation of interior life, past and present, inviting an innumerable number of stories to be written by the viewer alone.
Over the years, Todd Hido has produced over a dozen photo books, which he considers an integral part of his practice. Referring to them as 'paper movies', focusing on sequence and order provides him with the opportunity to construct his own narrative around bodies of work, a process that enforces and further shapes their collective intentions.
Todd Hido's artwork is held in numerous collections, including the J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Whitney Museum of Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Art Institute of Chicago; and Pier 24 Photography, San Francisco, amongst others.
Solo exhibitions of Hido's work include Homes at Night, Rivalry Projects, Buffalo (2021); Todd Hido | Light From Within, Galerie Les filles du calvaire, Paris (2019); Todd Hido | In The Vicinity of Narrative, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Le Locle (2018); Bright Black World, Reflex Amsterdam (2018); and Intimate Distance, Casemore Kirkeby, San Francisco and La Galerie Particulaire, Paris (2016).
Selected group exhibitions include Whistler and the World, Colby Museum of Art, Waterville (2015); Edward Hopper and Photography, Whitney Museum of Art, New York (2014); and At the Window: The Photographer's View, The Getty Center, Los Angeles (2013).
Sarah Forman | Ocula | 2021