New York Photo Review
from the NYPR Archives

Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
Soho Photo Gallery
Central Booking Magazine

A Mixed Bag
Mark Power
The Sound of Two Songs/ The Shipping Forecast
Mark Power, Fair Isle 1996

In this modest exhibition featuring Mark Power, an accomplished British photographer with an eye for social commentary, the two distinct bodies of work on display may have more in common than is readily apparent.

“The Shipping Forecast” is the photographer’s tribute to what might be considered an English cultural phenomenon—a weather report broadcast four times a day by BBC radio that claims an audience of millions—mostly landlubbers. For the real sailors in the audience—and that is its intended audience—the forecasts can obviously be the difference between life and death.

These government sponsored broadcasts are aired at precise times each day, beginning at 6 AM, and cover 31 different locations in the UK. The forecasts are all said to have a certain rhythm and a relaxed enunciation; their evocative place names also feed forecast fans’ romantic notions of the seas surrounding the British Isles.

Power’s goal was to show these areas as they really are so he packed his gear into a VW camper and visited all 31 coastal areas. Each of his black and white images is captioned with the place name and date and that day’s 6 AM forecast. For example, “Fair Isle, Sunday January 28, 1996. 4 or 5, occasionally 6 in southwest at first. Mainly fair.” (Remember, these enigmatic words and phrases have become the stuff of song and legend). But anyone expecting to see an idyllic image of a coastal town will see Powers’ version of local reality: in this case, a tightly cropped picture of a man from the neck down wearing a necktie featuring Dr. Spock and other two Star Trek characters. Behind him is the open sea, with a ship in the distance. I liked the humor and the surprise.

 by unidentified photographer.
Mark Power, Warsaw 2005

The other half of this exhibition is “The Sound of Two Songs,” or Power’s love affair with Poland. After his initial trip there on a Magnum assignment, Power went back and forth to Poland about 20 times over a five-year period. His aim was to show the old and the new and the change in social values in a country that he called both beautiful and ugly. Power shows what he means with a series of color images that contrast the urban landscape of the depressing Communist- era housing projects with new colorful apartment developments and shopping malls along with portraits of the people that populate them. Power’s Poland is also quaint villages with empty streets and peaceful snow covered landscapes. There is a sense of hope in some of these pictures; the future looks brighter than the recent past, while in “The Shipping Forecast,” there seems to be little, if any, of that.

Mark Power
The Sound of Two Songs/ The Shipping Forecast


Amador Gallery
41 E 57th St. 6th Fl
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212 759 6740
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Wednesday, January 26 to
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Hours: Tues - Fri, 11-6; Sat 11 - 5
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The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
Central Booking Magazine
Soho Photo Gallery