ERIK MADIGAN HECK – The Garden
The Garden is an ongoing body of work depicting Heck’s wife and two young sons in a variety of richly colourful surrounds. The photographs draw upon Catholic iconography and other mythic pictorial traditions to develop a colour-based narrative evocative of spiritual archetypes and the processes of dissolution and rebirth.
The series moves through a singular world—a fairytale in which figures and settings become tableaux for hyper-concentrated tonal arrangements. Images are composited and oversaturated with colour to create painterly and surreal compositions in which the familiar and fantastic are merged. Completing its aesthetic fantasy through lavish clothes, gestures of dreamlike poignancy, and an Edenic environment, ‘The Garden’ expresses the supramundane innocence and spontaneity that art makes possible—a life lived in the direct, immediate experience of beauty.
Shot predominantly at the family's home in New England, the series initially elicits comparisons with other contemporary photography confronting family life, such as Sally Mann’s Immediate Family, or the work of Elinor Carucci. But though the subjects of Heck’s photographs are ostensibly his family, The Garden's real subject matter is colour and the aesthetic possibilities of photography to create what it captures.
Towards the end of the project Erik Madigan Heck’s mother who was suffering from a long term illness contracted COVID-19. The book and the album record that accompanies it took on a new significance, which lead to a new chapter being added called Safe Passage. This section of the book completes a circle between the idyllic nature and wonder of The Garden and the cycle of life that unites us all.