The End is the Beginning for Erik Madigan Heck


A student of philosophy and literature, the 28-year-old New York photographer Erik Madigan Heck draws from a range of romantic inspirations—from Bohemian poets and Impressionist painters to the rugged landscapes of his native Minnesota. It’s this unusual perspective and a vivid, haunting aesthetic that has won him both disciples and champions the world over, from art world heavyweights (Christian Boltanski, Lawrence Weiner, Kiki Smith) to prominent fashion designers (the Belgians in particular) and leading figures in the arenas of contemporary music and dance. To see one of Heck’s photographs is to witness a holistic universe, as any one image may comprise of analog photography fused with digital images, surrealist sets painted by his own hand, and layers of meaning that rarely surface at first glance. His films are no less profound.

After publishing a bevy of projects through his title Nomenus Quarterly and through the journal I edit, A Magazine Curated By, Heck became the youngest photographer to shoot Neiman Marcus’ Art of Fashion campaign for Fall Winter 2012, following in the footsteps of Richard Avedon and Norma Jean Roy. Riding on the back of this windfall campaign Heck opens a week-long video exhibition at 372 Broome St. in SoHo this evening, showing six short films from his archive and a seventh new work dedicated to his friend and collaborator, the Belgian designer Ann Demeulemeester. “It’s a gift for Ann,” said Heck, “I called it ‘The End’ to reflect our own death and that of film as a medium. It’s a continuous dream sequence with layers of the ocean, clouds, running horses, and men, all interweaved into a disintegrating loop.”

Opening with a quote by the poet Lacroix, a voiceover in Demeulemeester’s native Flemish floats over the black and white frames, as the silhouettes of New York models Marcel Castenmiller and Lyle Lodwick fade in and out of Heck’s Super 8mm slides. As installations on glass, all seven films can be seen from the street, and include three Neiman Marcus-commissioned fashion pieces, and “Fratres fur A.F. Vandevorst,” a 2009 collaboration with the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt.