Entry Title: "The first to come and the last to leave"
Name: Dennis Hodges , Hungary
Category and Expertise: Abstract|Other_N|Deeper Perspective, Non-Professional


Entry Description: Balloons are usually the first ones to a party and sometimes are the last to leave. Some leave earlier than others. Some leave voluntarily, others exit due to an outside influence. Much like humans. As balloons “age” their human-like qualities emerge. Juxtaposed against one another, a new story unfolds; one of staying or leaving, of going earlier than the others or hanging around until the very end. Life cannot be controlled any more successfully than air is by a balloon; at some point, the air gains its freedom. The series touches on the theme of aging – impotence, loss, endurance, loneliness, vitality, weakness – all accompanied by laughter or sadness and sentimentality.

Story: The first to come and the last to leave We all love balloons: as Winnie the Pooh says, “nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.” Balloons come with a smile attached to them – notice how we use them for celebrations but never for sad occasions? Kids adore them, particularly when they’re filled with helium and float magically above their heads. Unless they float away, then there’s the sadness that comes from losing a good friend forever. Balloons are usually the first ones to a party and sometimes are the last to leave. Some leave earlier than others. Some leave voluntarily, others exit due to an outside influence. Much like human visitors to a function. As balloons “age” (and they don’t often get this opportunity) their human-like qualities emerge. Juxtaposed against one another, a new story unfolds; one of staying or leaving, of going earlier than the others or hanging around until the very end. I’m regularly captivated by inanimate objects as subjects for photography and project human-like qualities on these otherwise emotionless items; things that we generally don’t give a second thought to, like balloons. This series was shot over a period of a few months when the balloons we had strung throughout our home for our daughter’s birthday were all that remained of the celebration. Many of the balloons gave into fatigue, bursting their thinned walls, some earlier than the rest. Others slowly released their air, returning close to their original dimensions but not quite, becoming wrinkled old versions of their youthful selves. The transition of these balloons from their festive state to their final state with the daily changes in shapes and numbers was a microcosm of life itself. The larger lesson in the work relates to the illusion of control: life cannot be controlled any more successfully than air is by a balloon; at some point, the air gains its freedom. The series further addresses themes that deal with aging – impotence, loss, endurance, “hanging in there,” loneliness, transitioning from vitality to weakness, going out with a bang or slowly shrinking – all accompanied by laughter or sadness and sentimentality.

About the Artist:

I borrowed Mom’s twin lens reflex when I was 8 and my father taught me the essentials of composition. In college I was fortunate to become a student and friend of the gifted photographer Howard Stephens who expanded my technique into different processes, opening the box and inviting me to play outside of it. Panicked after graduation, I chose a path of office work with photography relegated to being a creative release. Within the past few years, it has taken its proper place as the center of my activity. As I continue to grow, I continue to experiment with the tools I have available as well as moving my art from individual images to series, telling stories along the way. www.dennishodges.com www.writing-with-light.com