Reality and Myth

Photographer Mark Power (b. 1959) grew up in England’s suburbs during the 1960s, enchanted by US television shows and the allure of the western. A search for these mythical landscapes underpins Good Morning, America, an ongoing project on view at Magnum Print Room, London. It captures the country at a moment of change – politically, environmentally, socially, economically. It traverses a fabled terrain, revealing a fictional world that perhaps never existed at all.

The large-scale body of work comprises several thousand images. Power is collecting snapshots from all 50 states, a journey which requires several visits each year. “While the project would seem to echo countless other American ‘road trips’, these pictures are in fact made during long walks through a series of towns and cities,” the photographer notes. “[This] allows quieter, perhaps more contemplative pictures to emerge.”

Pearsall, Texas 01.2018 © Mark Power / Magnum Photos

Railway lines diverge within dense seas of misty trees, the horizon obscured by fog. Clouds of smoke billow from a former schoolhouse, the skies glowing orange above. A trailer park is shown in the aftermath of a destructive wildfire, the swimming pool abandoned. These are poignant moments that point towards larger ecological, socio-political and ultimately human narratives, offering shifting perspectives on a complicated time in America’s history. “I’m attempting to construct a complex narrative, but I don’t think of myself as a storyteller,” the photographer continues. “I see a multitude of subjects as interconnected, each affecting and informing the other.”

The project began in 2012 and will become a series of five books. Two of these volumes are already published, with the third launching in autumn 2020. Power continues: “This exhibition, like the books, is a work-in-progress; I have a sense that I’m building an enormous jigsaw puzzle but with little idea what the final, completed picture will be.”

The exhibition runs 8 January – 3 April. Find out more here.

Lead image: Aftermath of the Tubbs fire. Journey’s End Mobile Home Park, Santa Rosa, California. 01.2018 © Mark Power / Magnum Photos