JOSHUA HOFFINE – SOLO EXHIBITION – INTERVIEW BY MARIA DEL CASTILLO

Does your interest in images of horror have anything to do with your studies in English Literature?

They are related.  I was looking for a way to make metaphorical narrative-based photographs that employed archetypal images.  My search led from fairy tales to Horror stories.  There is a metaphoric capability to the Horror genre that can accommodate complex themes in a comparatively straightforward and all-encompassing way.

What was the trigger to leave the job of wedding photographer to pursue your dreams of art photography?

I still shoot weddings on occasion.  I enjoy any opportunity to make money with photography.  But I always make my personal work my priority.  Follow your bliss.

What are the metaphors behind your images? joshua-hoffine-03

They relate the potential dangers of the world in symbolic form.  A common metaphor I use is the boogeyman as a child molester.

Do fairy tales relate more than just “don’t go into the forest alone?”

Many classic fairy tales, such as Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, and Bluebeard, function as cautionary tales about the potential dangers of the world.  Likewise, so do many Horror films.  The dangers of the world are represented symbolically or metaphorically – as monsters, ogres, trolls, child-devouring witches, and so on.  The same also can be said for Horror films.

Many famous Horror films are closely related to classic fairy tales.  PSYCHO draws heavily upon Little Red Riding Hood.  Norman Bates, like the Wolf, dresses up as ‘grandmother’ before slaying his victim.  Both stories are predicated upon the idea of ‘the wolf in sheep’s clothing’.  Both the Wolf and Norman Bates adopt a mask of normalcy in order to hide their monstrosity and violent intent.

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE is a modern-dress version of Hansel and Gretel.  Only the kids in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE are lured into the witch’s house not by candy, but by their search for gasoline – an understandable motivation during the gas shortages of the 1970’s.

joshua-hoffine-17 The Horror film, like the fairy tale, also engages with what Bruno Bettelheim has called ‘the existential predicament’, where ‘a struggle against severe difficulties in life is unavoidable, an intrinsic part of human existence.’  While Bettelheim argues that the fairy tale has an inevitably optimistic outcome – the ‘happily ever after’ ending – the Horror film remains ambivalent in this respect.  What it continues to share with the fairy tale, however, is a focus on the process of overcoming the dangers and obstacles in life.  Fairy tales and Horror films need to continually construct problems for their protagonists to deal with.

What the fairy tale teaches the child is that life will have difficulties, but they will be overcome.  What the Horror film teaches us is that life will have difficulties, and they will be overcome, but that the process will then start over.  In the modern Horror film, the monster always comes back, even after it has been defeated.  Each stage of life presents it’s own set of dangers, obstacles, and difficulties.  We never reach a plateau in life where everything is simply ‘happily ever after’.  The process never ends.  It continues until death.

What are the most common fears?

Pain, victimization, death, loss, and social collapse.

Are present fears different than ancient fears?  Are there specific fears of our era?

The core fears are universal and perennial.  Our primal fears redress themselves to fit any culture. joshua-hoffine-06

Where are your images evolving to?  What kind of scenes do you plan to shoot?

Larger scale productions.

Once your kids are older, who will be the protagonist of your scenes?  Do you plan to shoot a kind of teen horror?

I may continue to use my baby niece Thea for certain child-based scenes.  But I do plan to use my daughters for a kind of teen horror.  I just shot a new image called BABYSITTER, which stars my 13 year old daughter Arinna.  There is a lot of potential in focusing on adolescence.

Where do your pictures go?  What kind of individuals buy your online prints?  Where do you want your pictures to be hanged?

I don’t know where my pictures go.  I sell a lot of prints, but I never meet the buyer.  These images were meant to be viewed in a gallery setting, rather than on a living room wall.  I’m sometimes surprised that people want to live with them.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Film projects.  More photography.

by María del Castillo for Area Zinc

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