© Patrick Hogan, Behind the Garden Wall, from the project Solitary, Half Mad.
© Patrick Hogan, Animal In The Dark #1, from the project Solitary, Half Mad.
excerpt of a conversation between Patrick Hogan and Stephen Tierney, published in The Interior Prospect.
ST – Having grown up myself in the Tipperary countryside I remember many echoes of your works atmospheres in the empty houses we would explore when we were young. I am interested in how views of interiors can be used to communicate or suggest meaning. Regarding your series Solitary, half mad, which I believe has a fictive aspect to it, did some of the interiors that you created have some personal resonance for you?
PH – When I began this project, I decided to move from the urban area where I had been living, to a small cottage in the Tipperary countryside. All of the interiors that I photographed were found around the area where I live but they have no direct relevance to me, other than to say that they were chosen and photographed with a degree of empathy.
As I had been living alone and also working on this project alone for six months and on a very low budget, you could say that the overall series has absorbed a mood and a tone that I don’t think would have emerged otherwise.
Initially, I was interested in the notion that romantic ideals of solitude and escapism are often more fantastical than reality will ultimately offer. Regarding meaning, I wanted to find a way to communicate this sense of tension between reality and fantasy. All of the interiors that I photographed were rooms where people lived or died alone. For the most part, everything was photographed as I found it. This was important. By paying particular attention to how these interiors were composed and lit, I could bring a sense of theatre to these very real situations. The sequencing of interior and exterior pictures and the significantly small number of pictures used in the final sequence, leaves enough space between the images to enable the viewer to form their own interpretation. In this sense, I think meaning is communicated by suggestion rather than direction, and relies on an element of elusiveness.
© Patrick Hogan, Table, from the project Solitary, Half Mad.
© Patrick Hogan, Animal In The Dark #2, from the project Solitary, Half Mad.
ST – The interiors seem to reflect a life of exclusively solitary existence and both attract and repel through curiosity and food. Are these found spaces?
PH – Yes, all of the interiors are found spaces. Over the six months of the project, I met with and photographed people who live alone or in remote areas and also photographed the unused house as I mentioned. When I met people, I would usually begin with a portrait but soon found that the interiors seemed more interesting and were places that could hold more meaning than a portrait. In the end, none of the portraits were used.
The tension between attraction and repulsion that you mention was important throughout this project. Some of the interiors were photographed in what could be described as a forensic manner, like the bedroom, using a wide angle lens to include as much of the bed as possible and photographing it as I found it. On the other hand, by controlling the light and considering the camera view-point, the colour palette when printing and finally the framing, I could bring a somewhat seductive quality to these images. On closer inspection of course, we can see that in most cases, we are looking at scenes of neglect and often poverty. In this sense the visual language employed relies on a contradiction and I think meaning is communicated through this opposition.
© Patrick Hogan, Animal In The Dark #3, from the project Solitary, Half Mad.
© Patrick Hogan, Inside The Wood #2, from the project Solitary, Half Mad.