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kottke.org posts about Jeff Malmberg

Welcome to Marwen

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 26, 2018

Mark Hogancamp was beaten by five men outside a bar and left for dead. He spent nine days in a coma, lost his memory, and spent over a year in physical therapy. As part of his recovery, Hogancamp built a meticulously constructed WWII town in his backyard that he called Marwencol.

When his state-sponsored rehabilitative therapies ran out, Mark took his recovery into his own hands. In his backyard, he created a new world entirely within his control — a 1:6 scale World War II town he named Marwencol. Using doll alter egos of his friends and family, his attackers and himself, Mark enacted epic battles and recreated memories, which he captured in strikingly realistic photographs. Those photos eventually caught the eye of the art world, which lead to a series of gallery exhibitions, the award-winning documentary “Marwencol,” the acclaimed book “Welcome to Marwencol,” and a new identity for a man once ridiculed for playing with dolls.

Robert Zemeckis has turned Hogancamp’s story into a movie starring Steve Carell called Welcome to Marwen. Here’s the trailer; it comes out in December 2018:

In 2010, Jeff Malmberg made a documentary about Hogancamp & and his project. It’s a little hard to find these days despite a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but you can watch it on Amazon w/ a trial subscription or buy it on iTunes. Here’s the trailer:

Hogancamp also collected some of the photos of Marwencol into a book.

Marwencol

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 15, 2010

Marwencol is the name of fictional town built by Mark Hogancamp in his backyard in an attempt to cope with a near-fatal beating. Jeff Malmberg has made a documentary of the same name about Hogancamp’s fantasy world.

After being beaten into a brain-damaging coma by five men outside a bar, Mark built a 1/6th scale World War II-era town in his backyard. Mark populated the town he dubbed “Marwencol” with dolls representing his friends and family and created life-like photographs detailing the town’s many relationships and dramas. Playing in the town and photographing the action helped Mark to recover his hand-eye coordination and deal with the psychic wounds from the attack. Through his homemade therapy, Mark was able to begin the long journey back into the “real world”, both physically and emotionally — something he continues to struggle with today.

Some bits of the film are available on Vimeo. (thx, greg)