Todd Hido: “Ohio” (2009)

From Ohio, 2009

 By Doug Rickard

The clouds are passing by gently… the pale blue sky smiles because it is summer again and the sun beams its warm rays down into your suburban backyard in the Midwest. You’re standing there looking at the white house next door and the curtains are closed. The dry weeds sting at your shins as you stand there in your neglected dirt yard, thorns sticking to your little boy 1970’s socks as you look at the white house. Your father’s failures and rage are waiting for you little boy and the secrets of the adults are beckoning for you to come. Come bring your purity and your innocence…

And let us destroy it.

The big hand grips your arm hard enough to hurt as he whispers in your ear to shut the hell up. The bald man with the glasses holds up his mediocre diploma as he kneels on the dirty green carpet of his empty mediocre living room. They take a picture. His self hate will injure you, his sins will catch you and they will soon be yours. You can’t do anything about it… you can play with your boy dolls and your rubber balls but there is no way out.



From Ohio, 2009


Little boy, you have nowhere to go.

She is laying on the bed in front of him. The bald man with the alcohol breath, with the crappy diploma, in the empty house, is telling her to pose for him and his camera. He tells her to lay on her side in her crummy nightgown as he takes her picture. She lays there posing her sex parts, in the ugly nightgown on the brass bed with the ugly blankets, in the dirty room with bare walls, in the house with smelly green carpets, next door to the white house with the secrets, by the creek with ugly sharp rocks where the kids are told to stay away, by the river with the creepo white man van parked alone on the side of the road. He tells her to pose like the girls in his magazines while he thinks about them instead of her.




And mom poses for him.

Fast forward. You sit in the room with your bald head and your old film camera as you tell her to pose… she takes off her top as you click and exhale your breath. You adjust the blankets on the ugly bed and you cover the windows… you tell her to lie down on the floor in the room with no furniture, in an empty white house with the green carpet and the ugly empty walls.

Father and son, together as one.

Todd Hido’s “Ohio” is a memory tunnel of truth or fiction or both (the reality is not the point). It is the still frames of the psyche as a careful blend – a little white book filled with secrets of the past becoming the behavior of the present. Old family snapshots and photographs taken by Todd as a child blend seamlessly with current photographs that were taken using the same camera. Todd has crafted a delicate, raw, rope burn. With the careful and sparing orchestration of a sorrowful song, we see patterns, we see the failed American family dream play out… and the sins of the father are burned into the boy.

“Ohio” is searing.

An authentic pure vision in the form of a little white book… stark white, stiffly binded and utterly “true”.





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