Hudson Hayden’s photo book weaves a tapestry of symbols

The photographer transforms the mundane into an evocative visual poem filled with carefully composed still life images

When Canadian artist Hudson Hayden relocated from Toronto to Berlin in 2016, it was followed by a two-year period of moving from one accommodation to another every couple of months.

It was during this stretch of time that the early themes of his debut monograph, Notwithstanding, began to take shape. Given his own circumstances, many of the subjects within the series of photographs are taken in the private spaces of other people’s homes, yet the meaning of these subjects is often abstracted from their original context.

All images © Hudson Hayden, 2023. Courtesy Loose Joints

Hayden’s series is less about the explicit implications of objects and places, and more to do with their subtle power as symbols. Carefully sequenced, these symbols form a dance of sorts, creating intertextual meaning for the viewer. In doing so, the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts, though the standalone images still showcase Hayden’s strong aesthetic and compositional sensibilities.

The arrangement of the images is designed to be clear and concise, so as to avoid already abstract messaging becoming too obscure to read. It’s no surprise then that Hayden recalls spending years on the editing and sequencing of the photographs – a painstaking period of time spent getting it right.

After narrowing 250 initial images down to an edit of around 70, he approached the team at Loose Joints, which published the book, to hone the final selection and help shake up his ideas. 

The publisher likens the photographer’s “visual lexicon … to one of design”, and this notion becomes clear when considering the accuracy with which Hayden frames and captures his subject.

He calls it visual tidiness, explaining that there is an orderliness to the images that could make them design adjacent. Though seemingly open to interpretation, Hayden’s images are underpinned by clarity, leaving distractions at the door.

Notwithstanding by Hudson Hayden is published by Loose Joints;