Mark Power, the polish man of Brighton
Mark’s last name undoubtedly presaged a brilliant career. It wasn’t luck that led this British photographer to devote his talent to observing a country, Poland, but an initial flirt with a land that would eventually turn into a love story.
The first time, he was on vacation with his girlfriend. Mark Power discovered Poland as a tourist without ever imagining that after a tumultuous year, he would return here 25 times. It is 1989. He just entered stardom with his iconic pictures of the fall of the Berlin Wall, making him an expert on eastern Europe for his native British newspapers.
It is 2004 and 15 years later, he is a recognized photographer who, for Magnum’s “portraits” of the ten new European member countries, must make a choice. His heart would decide for him. Mark Power once again left England for Warsaw, this time determined to capture this changing country as it evolves, not without contradiction, from its communist past.
With his view camera, he traveled through the cities, the suburbs and the countrysides looking for intriguing images without reflecting tourist traps. Power loves architecture. Polish architecture is fragmented and peppered with aging buildings reminiscent of socialist utopian ideas. He captures them along the highways, beside lakes and in abandoned fields. Another building style flourishes here, that of private homes and and supermarket parking lots, symbolic of economic rebirth and massive consumption. The Poland of Mark Power’s Sound of Songs is as he hoped, contrasting, in perpetual change, and nostalgic.
In a day when photographers are required to adopt a personal approach – reportage, portraits, landscapes – Mark Power avoids all typecasting. He prefers to engage in a “photographic tongue” through consistent observation of the world. He endeavors everything. And often has several parallel projects in the works.
Mark Power has a lucky star. He is concerned about the world, travels to meet people, observes their rituals and magnifies their banalities. His eye focuses on the seemingly frozen commonplace. “Documentary photographers have a passport to other worlds and other lives. A passport to people who don’t appear to have one.”
Sound of two Songs was exhibited in early 2011 at the Amador Gallery of New York and is available in a book of the same name.