Mary Ellen Mark

Exhibition: 7 May to 7 June, 2014
Opening: 14 May 6-8pm



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Stills Gallery and Head On Photo Festival are delighted to present a solo exhibition of works by Mary Ellen Mark.

A highly respected and influential photographer, Mark has created images of our world's diverse cultures that have become landmarks in the field of documentary photography. The exhibition at Stills Gallery as part of Head On Photo Festival, Mark’s first solo exhibition in Australia, features some of her most iconic images. From the haunting portrait of street kid “Tiny” dressed in her Halloween costume, to senior citizens getting down on a dance floor in Luigi's Italian American Club in Miami and the eccentricities of the Indian Circus, Mark’s images are, as she has described them “full of ironies, often humorous and sometimes sad, beautiful and ugly, loving and at times cruel, but always human.”

In addition to these iconic images is a selection of photographs taken in Australia on a National Geographic assignment for the 1988 Bicentennial. Mark photographed in Redfern and her images feature well-known members of the community including TJ Hickey as a young baby, and Ernest McQuillan, who ran a boxing ring. She also focused on recent immigrants from places like Lebanon and Vietnam, capturing the diversity of cultures and voices that existed in Australia at the time.

When Mark set out as a photographer in the early 1960s she wanted to explore and try to understand the lives of as many different kinds of people as she could. For over four decades she has travelled extensively to make pictures that reflect a high degree of humanism. Her images, whether they are of people at the edges of society or those closer to the centre — are all bound together by a generosity of vision. In the 1970s, she worked on several bodies of work, which established her reputation. In 1976, she documented the women's maximum-security ward of Oregon State Mental Hospital, and in 1978 she photographed the prostitutes in the brothels of Falkland Road in Bombay. Both became subjects for books. In the 1980s and 1990s, she photographed and published books on homeless teenagers in Seattle, a holiday camp for children with cancer in California, Mother Teresa, circuses in India, and more recently on twins and proms in America.

Mary Ellen Mark has published eighteen books including Ward 81 (Simon & Schuster, 1979), Falkland Road (Knopf, 1981), Mother Teresa's Mission of Charity in Calcutta (Friends of Photography, 1985), Streetwise (second printing, Aperture, 1992), Indian Circus, (Chronicle, 1993, Twins (Aperture, 2003), Seen Behind the Scene (Phaidon, 2009) and Prom (Getty, 2012.) She has also published photo-essays and portraits in such publications as LIFE, New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair. Mark's photographs have been exhibited worldwide and are held in many important public and private collections. Amongst her many accolades are the Cornell Capa Award from the International Center of Photography in 2001, the Infinity Award for Journalism, the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and the Matrix Award for outstanding woman in the field of film/photography. Her work was presented at the MCA in Sydney in Revealing Moments in Time, chosen by Ricky Maynard to be exhibited concurrently with his Portrait of a Distant Land exhibition in 2009.

Headon Photo Festival