Dominic Hawgood Under the Influence - Magenta editorial team
The title Under the influence is like a self-fulfilling prophecy - being under influence is meant for the viewer of those photographs. Thanks to excellent use of colour and light, Dominic Hawgood is trying to seduce at first sight. It can even be assumed that some of the seduced, charmed or beguiled-ones won’t even ask themselves the crucial question: under the influence of what? Not doing so may be a nightmare of an artist, who wants a full understanding of his work. But in those photographs, however analytic they are in looking for single gestures or fragments of reality seen by the artist himself, the aim is not to just understand, but to feel and experience. It’s a many-sided, sensual manipulation on emotions. A visual manipulation, which uses both basic methods, like colour and light, and sophisticated-ones, like CGI, all leading in one direction. The ease of exposing oneself to the influence is higher if we consider the spacial character of the project, presented on exhibitions as installations.
So, with what kind of influence are we dealing? With his photographs, Hawgood is reconstructing exorcism and healing attempts occurring at Pentecostal churches in London, as seen by photographer himself. Using tools of advertising, he crashes seemingly opposite motives and blurs lines between different areas, as it is also done by some religious groups. And however popular and indifferent are now gradient backgrounds and specific photographic language inspired by advertising, in opposite to many other projects Under the influence seems to have a deeper meaning, not only pure but shallow aesthetic.
In this case it doesn’t matter that those images are not a direct reflection of a real situation, reflection of what was, but a reconstruction mediated through artist’s sensibility, creativity and technique. All of that is a matter of believing and feeling. If some believe that saliva trickling from a woman’s mouth is a sign of forces of evil abandoning the body due to exorcisms, then pictures from Under the Influence are also something to believe in. Believe through feeling and experiencing.
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, DOMINIC HAWGOOD, 2016