UNDERCOVER #18: TODD HIDO
by Gianpaolo Arena


The Raveonettes “Rarities/B-Sides” 2011 Not On Label (The Raveonettes Self-released)


Todd Hido, #3972-b San Francisco, CA/Nymph Daughters, Motel Club, Excerpts from 'Silver Meadows'

Active since 2001, the Raveonettes are a Danish-born duo, now a US adoption, composed of the blonde Sharin Foo on bass, guitar and vocals and Sune Rose Wagner on guitar and vocals. The album collects outtakes and recordings from the period of the first EP "Whip It On" (2002) and the subsequent three-albums, "Chain Gang of Love" (2003), "Pretty in Black" (2005) and "Lust Lust Lust" (2007). "Rarities and B-Sides", published in limited edition, contains 27 tracks that guides the listener through the evolution of the band’s style. The recurrent rhythms and the mystified atmospheres are born from a mix of new wave and a gloomy, dark pop, hinting at a '50s and' 60s sound. The Velvet Underground and Jesus and Mary Chain are some of the influences that can be heard in their music which also echoes Phil Spector. The result is an umpteenth revival of the classics filtered through a contemporary approach. It reminds us of the dust of time creeping through memories, blurring our focus, only allowing us to distinctly perceive contours and appearances. A quality which often has served literature and cinema.

The recent publication by Aperture of the first comprehensive monograph of Todd Hido’s works is a good opportunity to get better acquainted with his photographs on the beloved American suburbs. The author, a native of Kent, Ohio, is very attracted to those marginal landscapes that influenced his art so much. In his words: «I find it curious that although I travel a lot to take pictures I almost always end up in places that remind me of home». A chronicle of American suburbia that is obsessively nourished by the darkness of foggy outskirts, suburban streets, snowy houses, domestic lights, clammy walls. The daily and repetitive emptiness of a street with no name, glory or gods. Minimal narratives emerge from the dark to describe what animates and holds together human relations. A feeble trembling forces to look inward and to unravel the inextricable tangle of memories. The photography that is able to move and speak to the heart through metaphors, quotes and references. Pictorial images, poetically cinematographic, are magically suspended between a before and an after in which a fictional plot takes place. The observer is lost in a crystallized time where he has to fill this empty space. The works of Raymond Carver, Virginia Woolf, Edward Hopper, Mark Rothko, Alfred Hitchcock, Robert Altman, David Lynch, Gus Van Sant, Walker Evans, Larry Sultan, Stephen Shore and Nan Goldin come to mind. The women portrayed are enigmatic as well as melancholic, young and undressed, lying or sitting on the edge of unmade beds.

In the album cover two female legs are the focus of the image, the stockings ripped, a crystal ashtray in the corner, a dirty carpet, a cheap motel, announcing the beginning of another story, but for now we’re just waiting, in a timeless time.

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LINKS

The Raveonettes - The Enemy 
The Raveonettes - Observations 
The Raveonettes - The Christmas Song 
The Raveonettes - Full Album 
The Raveonettes - Live at Roskilde Festival 2011


The Raveonettes - Rolling Stone Interview  
Todd Hido talks about "Excerpts from Silver Meadows"


Todd Hido talk at EFTI School of Photography

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Undercover is a special issue dedicated to photographers and musical covers.