Marwencol is a documentary about the life of Mark Hogancamp. Mark was in a bar one night and after leaving, was beset upon by five thugs who had perhaps taken offense at his lifestyle. The men beat him to within an inch of his life, as they say. Or as Mark said, they beat every memory out of him. He was in a coma for nine days. As physical therapy and more as a way to cope with the memory of the vicious beating, Mark began to build a World War II town out of dolls – Barbie’s and GI Joes. He named the 1/16th scale Belgian town Marwencol, and began photographing his work.
He’d pose the dolls to reveal attitudes, play out narratives, and generally breathe life into his creations. Of course, Mark was more comfortable living in Marwencol, than he was living in the “real” world. This strangely absorbing documentary is the work of magazine editor and photographer Jeff Malmberg, who convinced Mark to come to New York to show his work.
Marwencol is less the story of coping and regenerating one’s life, than it is about the power of art to heal and gain a foothold on reality – albeit an alternate one.