The "protectors" of Marwencol return from patrol. (Photo: Mark E. Hogancamp/Courtesy Cinema Guild)
A couple of weeks ago i came across the photography of Mark E. Hogancamp and was instantly struck by the unique way he used photography as a form of therapy. Eleven years ago, Hogancamp was severely attacked in a bar by five men. The attack was so brutal that his mother did not recognise him. When he awoke from a nine day coma, it was found that he had no language, he couldn't walk and Hogancamp had also a lost large part of his memory due to the head injuries he'd received.
After twelve months of therapy the bills became too much, and Mark had to find another way to deal with the consequences of what had happened to him. Lacking conventional help he decided to create his own - a World War II era town all in 1/6th scale called Marwencol. In this town Hogancamp creates stories using action figures, each with their own identity and personality, that help him cope with his new life him after the terrible attack.
Photography became an outlet for Hogancamp to tell the comic book type stories of the characters he has devised. Some of the photographs work better than others but it is fascinating to see photography used in this way as a therapeutic tool. Several of the images do capture a World War II type atmosphere nicely. I've always believed that photographs are created for a variety of reasons that are not always just visual. The relationship we have with our photographs is often not as simple as we'd like to think.
It is a brilliant story about an eccentric guy just trying to come to terms with what happened to him. The photography is well worth a look because it's just so unique. Sadly i missed a documentary on TV about Marwencol last week but a short YouTube trailer can be viewed on the page along with the photos HERE
To visit Marwencol go to http://www.marwencol.com/