We see the light cobalt sky of twilight or early dawn. The light from a streetlamp illuminates the curb; light comes from windows on the first and upper floors of a bungalow. From the look of the two parked cars, the modest nature of the house, and the crisscrossing of utility lines, we are in an anonymous low-income suburb. But Todd Hido's beautiful color photography gives it an unexpected allure. The intense greens of the overgrown sidewalk garden, the browns of the curb, the blue sky, and the sharp whites of the windows are in striking contrast to the black silhouetted trees and shadows, especially the shadow that falls across the clapboard wall of the house.
Hido's composition and manipulation of color, however, do not leave us with an objective photograph that is descriptive and nothing more. He presents an untold story that is left to us to complete. Why are the lights on at this time of day? What is going on in the house? An innocent domestic scene, or something else? The shadows on the house lick up to the second-floor window in a menacing way. Although innocuous enough, why is there an empty parking place? Is it more than it seems? Are we safe, or not? This is the mystery of Hido's portrait of a home.
Todd Hido, Untitled #2154-A, from House Hunting, 1998, Cibachrome print, 24 x 20 inches. Collection of Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Madison Art Center Purchase Fund. 2002.01 © Todd Hido.
Todd Hido. Photograph courtesy Stephen Wirtz Gallery.