We have to agree with New York’s verdict that Marwencol is one of “The 20 Essential Documentaries of the Century,” so it’s kind of exciting that the film’s subject, Mark Hogancamp, will be making a rare NYC appearance at a screening that accompanies an exhibit of his latest work.
If you haven’t seen the 2010 doc, it follows Hogancamp, who suffered brain damage after he was nearly beaten to death by five men in 2000, as he recovers from the incident by using Barbie dolls and action figures to build a miniature World War II-era village in his backyard in Kingston, New York. Hogancamp continues to maintain his own little world, complete with sci-fi-influenced story lines and a miniature version of himself named “Hogie.”
Now Esopus (the arts publication that first ran Hogencamp’s photos of the 1/6th-scale Belgian village) and Kingston’s One Mile Gallery (which represents Hogancamp) have teamed up to bring the artist’s prints to the lofty former ironworks building that houses Pioneer Works in Red Hook. The exhibit, “Women of Marwencol,” combines earlier photos with a series that emerged this year after Hogancamp rescued 13 mannequins from a local junk store and gave them all names and outfits.
The early prints portray women as “valiant, sometimes vengeful” heroines who “constantly protect Hogie, who is a frequent target of the murderous Nazi soldiers who periodically threaten the town,” per One Mile’s description. But with this new series, Hogancamp “effectively switches roles from rescue to rescuer.”
The seductively posed mannequins could probably use the rescuing: at last week’s opening, we overheard some boozed-up bros talking about them as if they were admiring Kim Kardashian’s champagne tray. Which speaks to Hogancamp’s skill as a costumer. We hear he makes multiple costume changes of his own during public appearances, so look for them Saturday.
“Women of Marwencol,” through Dec. 13 at Pioneer Works, Center for Art and Innovation, 159 Pioneer Street, Red Hook; screening on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.