Mary Ellen Mark, R.I.P.

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“Photograph the world as it is. Nothing’s more interesting than reality.”

Partiu Mary Ellen Mark, (1940-2015), um dos nomes maiores da fotografia contemporânea. Uma referência fundamental da fotografia documental dos últimos 50 anos.

Fotógrafa de causas, temerária, determinada e independente,  Mary Ellen Mark tudo fez e tudo fez muito bem.

Lendárias as suas reportagens sobre os bordéis de Bombaim e sobre os Circos itinerantes da Índia, mas também os retratos espantosos, intimistas, que conseguia, desde actores e realizadores (a sua declarada paixão pelo cinema) até aos retratos de rua e à fantástica série sobre Madre Teresa de Calcutá.

Percorreu, com enorme competência os caminhos da fotografia comercial e publicitária, assinando campanhas para grandes marcas internacionais.

Viajante incansável, abriu caminhos novos à fotografia documental mas considerou-se, sempre e acima de tudo, uma “street photographer”.

Por razões que explica no texto abaixo, considerava esta a sua melhor fotografia

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“This was taken in India, at a circus in Ahmedabad. I think it was called the Great Golden Circus. I’m a street photographer, but I’m interested in any ironic, whimsical images, and there’s something very romantic about a circus. I was doing a book; I spent six months travelling, saw 18 different circuses, and it was just a wonderful time. Believe me, there couldn’t be a more strange place for a circus than India.

I made an appointment to photograph Ram Prakash Singh and the elephant he trained, called Shyama. Singh had a very big ego – he was also the ringmaster, the No 1 guy – which explains the expression on his face. He actually thought the picture was all about him. I always leave it up to my subject to see what they come up with, and he wrapped the elephant’s trunk around his neck. I thought it was great and shot a couple of rolls. But when I looked at the pictures afterwards, I noticed that in one shot Shyama had slid his eyes to the side, so he had a bit of an evil look on his face. That was definitely the one to use.

I work in colour sometimes, but I guess the images I most connect to, historically speaking, are in black and white. I see more in black and white – I like the abstraction of it.

The picture has a very anthropo-morphic quality. That’s why I like this so much: I think Shyama’s communicating with me in a way. He had to stay in that position for a while. He’d had enough of the shoot. A year later, we learned that Shyama had died after eating a poisoned chapati.”

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MARY ELLEN MARK has achieved worldwide visibility through her numerous books, exhibitions and editorial magazine work. She has published photo-essays and portraits in such publications as LIFE, New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair. For over four decades, she has traveled extensively to make pictures that reflect a high degree of humanism. Today, she is recognized as one of our most respected and influential photographers. Her images of our world’s diverse cultures have become landmarks in the field of documentary photography. Her portrayals of Mother Teresa, Indian circuses, and brothels in Bombay were the product of many years of work in India. A photo essay on runaway children in Seattle became the basis of the academy award nominated film STREETWISE, directed and photographed by her husband, Martin Bell.

Mary Ellen recently received the 2014 Lifetime Achievement in Photography Award from the George Eastman House as well as the Outstanding Contribution Photography Award from the World Photography Organisation. She has also received the Infinity Award for Journalism, an Erna & Victor Hasselblad Foundation Grant, and a Walter Annenberg Grant for her book and exhibition project on AMERICA. Among her other awards are the Cornell Capa Award from the International Center of Photography, the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, the Matrix Award for outstanding woman in the field of film/photography, and the Dr. Erich Salomon Award for outstanding merits in the field of journalistic photography. She was also presented with honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees from her Alma Mater, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of the Arts; three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts; the Photographer of the Year Award from the Friends of Photography; the World Press Award for Outstanding Body of Work Throughout the Years; the Victor Hasselblad Cover Award; two Robert F. Kennedy Awards; and the Creative Arts Award Citation for Photography at Brandeis University.

She has published eighteen books including Passport (Lustrum Press, 1974), Ward 81 (Simon & Schuster, 1979), Falkland Road (Knopf, 1981), Mother Teresa’s Mission of Charity in Calcutta (Friends of Photography, 1985), The Photo Essay: Photographers at work (A Smithsonian series), Streetwise (second printing, Aperture, 1992), Mary Ellen Mark: 25 Years (Bulfinch, 1991), Indian Circus,(Chronicle, 1993 and Takarajimasha Inc., 1993), Portraits (Motta Fotografica, 1995 and Smithsonian, 1997), a Cry for Help (Simon & Schuster, 1996), Mary Ellen Mark: American Odyssey (Aperture, 1999), Mary Ellen Mark 55 (Phaidon, 2001), Photo Poche: Mary Ellen Mark (Nathan, 2002), Twins (Aperture, 2003), Exposure (Phaidon, 2005), Extraordinary Child (The National Museum of Iceland, 2007), Seen Behind the Scene (Phaidon, 2009), Prom (Getty, 2012) and Man and Beast (University of Texas Press, 2014.) Mark’s photographs have been exhibited worldwide.

She also acted as the associate producer of the major motion picture, AMERICAN HEART (1992), directed by, Martin Bell.

Her book, Exposure, is a large retrospective book published by Phaidon Press. It showcases 134 of Mary Ellen’s best images, including both iconic and previously unpublished images.

Her most recent book Man and Beast features photographs from Mexico and India.

Aside from her book and magazine work, Mark has photographed advertising campaigns among which are Barnes and Noble, British Levis, Coach Bags, Eileen Fisher, Hasselblad, Heineken, Keds, Mass Mutual, Nissan, and Patek Philippe.

2 responses to “Mary Ellen Mark, R.I.P.

  1. Grandes fotos…
    RIP.

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