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Short Essays

November 13, 2009

Todd Hido*
Todd Hido, born 1968 in Kent, Ohio, is a photographer of the abandoned, lonely, eerily vacant and empty.  He has degrees from California College of arts and crafts, Rhode Island School of Design, and Tufts University. He has had his work exhibited in many places and has won many awards for his work. Currently based in San Francisco, much of his work revolves around suburban housing.
“Hido’s photographs reveal isolation and anonymity in contemporary suburbia. Eerily lit rooms and suddenly abandoned homes increase the effect of loneliness and loss.” (

Two Suburban Works:
Homes at Night under the houses category.  The windows in the photos in this category give away exactly where the people occupying the homes are in the house. Something you can always tell walking through a suburban neighborhood. You can see a bedroom light on, or the light emitting from a tv, sometimes you can even watch the tv if its big enough. Sometimes they want you to watch and see how big it is.

Epigona 6: Todd Hidotodd_hido-2
Occupied Homes  vs.  Foreclosed Homes
Are they really homes with no one to occupy them? They have no heart anymore. I think Hido captures this feeling brilliantly. Both his occupied and foreclosed home photos are vacant in appearance but those under foreclose have a colder emptiness to them. The occupied homes at least have some trace of someone having been present.
Bill Owens
Bill Owens, born 1938 in San Jose, CA is a photographer best known for suburban and domestic content. He published the book Suburbia in 1973, a collection of suburban scenes. These photos were not of rural communities and where far from the common city shot, they were strictly suburban.
Two Suburban Works:
Photos of homes being built displaying signs of who its being built for as if the developers were bragging that they were making some family’s suburban dream come true.
Eric Fischl
Eric Fischl grew up in the suburbs of Long Island and moved to Arizona in 1967. He grew up “against a backdrop of alcoholism and a country club culture obsessed with the image over content.” ( He is the painter of the suburbs, where his parents thought was the “safer place to raise a family.” ( His work would depict what was experienced in the suburbs against what could not be said, sexual, disturbing images, and the dysfunctional family.
Two Suburban Works:
Sleepwalker (1979) and Bad Boy (1981. Oil on Canvas. 66” x 96”)
Sleepwalker depicts an adolescent boy masturbating into a children’s pool and Bad Boy depicts a young boy looking at an older woman shown in provocative pose on a bed while the boy is sneaking his hand into a purse. Here is the dysfunctional, sexual, hidden life of the suburbs, and here in these two paintings is what we don’t see children going through on their way to growing up. To me he is showing the an inside view of the loss of innocence in progress.

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman, born 1954 in the suburb Glen RIdge, New Jersey became famous for her non-portraits of herself. Frustrated early on by the limitations of painting she decided to pick up a camera. Now she describes her work as “pictures of emotions personified.” (Fineburg. 470) She uses her photos as narratives, they are not portraits, her use of costumes and settings are what tell the story. Instead of portraits which are supposed to define a person and represent their characteristics, he narratives are supposed to challenge the idea of a fixed identity. Lately she has dressed as women from California, the house-wife, the personal trainer, the divorcee, and the realtor. From these examples we can see that she uses stereotypical roles of women.
Two Suburban Works:


Untitled #3


Untitled # 10

Untitled Film Still #3 (1977. 8”x 10”) and Untitled Film Still #10 (1978)
The house wife in an ad for a perfect domestic home. Her face is slightly cut off maybe hinting that the focus is on the work she is doing and the products she is using. It’s not about her, its about her job, but we can’t help trying to figure her out too. This is the narrative I came up with all my thoughts of suburbia.

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