‘Under The Influence’ explores the blurring of boundaries between fact and fiction, the real and the fake, transforming or subverting what we understand through images and iconography, questioning what we see at face value. In recent years Hawgood has used the religious ritual as a starting point for his explorations, and this series encapsulates in particular performative gestures and objects relating to exorcism ceremonies, held in predominantly African com- munities in London’s evangelical churches. The work looks at the merchandising of modern belief systems, and is an exploration into the theatrical practice of deliverance. The enigmatic experience of seeing exorcism first hand becomes the inspiration for a series that engages with topics about authenticity, desire, and the real.
At first glance his images are hyper-stylised still life, almost sterile in their depiction of these objects and actions and the peculiar use of advertising in one specific church. Anointing water in a spray bottle, a microphone held by a preacher, ice cubes and a wrist support, are set against backdrops of saccharine colours of the ad-man’s world of con- sumer culture, designed to lure us in on the sell. But what are we being sold? Advertising sells us the dream and lies to us through a simulated reality, is it at all disturbing or surprising that religion should harness these tactics too?
Hawgood presents the images combined with light sources as 3D physical objects, like some alternative Apple advert on a bus shelter. There is a sense of controlled precision, and the straight forward documentary image gives way to something altogether more sophisticated and surreal. The work is carefully composed, with its design and bright light- ing referring to a constructed set where nothing has been left to chance, and feels far removed from an actual church backdrop.
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, DOMINIC HAWGOOD, 2016