Mary Ellen Mark: The Lives of Women
Curated by Anne Morin
in collaboration with diChroma photohraphy
The exhbition is open until June 5th
From the moment she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication in 1964 with a degree in photojournalism up until her recent death just over fifty years later, Mary Ellen Mark worked as a documentary photographer making intensely vivid, ground-breaking photo essays, exploring the realities of people in a variety of complex, often difficult situations. A large majority of these people were women.
Mark’s work predates today’s focus on the abuse and suffering of women as highlighted by the #MeToo movement and others, with numerous projects extensively exploring the lives of women in difficult, painful, at times near-impossible situations. In the 1970s, Mark made a series of intimate black-and-white photographs of female patients in distress on Ward 81, the only locked ward for women in the Oregon State Hospital, publishing a book of the same name. In 1981 she published another volume, Falkland Road: Prostitutes of Bombay, a pioneering work in colour on the lives of sex workers in Mumbai’s low-rent red light district. A few years later, her work on Mother Teresa’s Mission of Charity in Calcutta came out as a book, illuminating the strength and commitment of this icon of generosity. Her work on Erin Blackwell, aka ‘Tiny’, a young runaway girl whom she met in 1983, and on Tiny’s community of friends living on the street, became the subject of an Academy Award-nominated film, Streetwise, as well as a second film, Tiny, and two books, tracing over three decades this young woman’s battle with poverty and drug addiction, as well as her role as a mother to ten of her own children.
A passionate witness, her life’s work was to use photography and film to delve deep into the lives of others as a way of embracing their humanity and sharing it with a wider audience, providing her subjects with a significant, often powerful voice.
Mary Ellen Mark: The Lives of Women will explore the work Mark did over the last half of a century, documenting a great variety of women in diverse situations. The exhibition consists of 90 photographs and will include the film Prom, Twins e The Amazing Plastic Lady.