Last night I went to the IRIS Nights lecture at the Annenberg Space for Photography to listen to Mark Laita talk about his new book called “Created Equal.” Mark is an entertaining speaker and his talk was one of the best I have attended at the Space.
The work Mark showed consisted of portraits of people he has met and are all done in a style very reminiscent of Irving Penn’s “Small Trades.” Each photo is a diptych and each of the individual photos in the pair was taken with an 8×10 double reflex view camera which he has specially made.
The following is extracted from an interview TurnStyleNews.com:
You’ve probably seen Mark Laita’s commercial photography – the cherry red Mini Cooper, glossy iPad, and ever so drinkable bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue – but you might not guess the same photographer is behind Created Equal, a provocative series of diptychs portraying Americans from all walks of life.
Created Equal is different from my other work in that it’s not politically correct. Perhaps it’s a reaction to all the years of working for advertising clients, producing work that was pleasing to look at. Almost all commercial work has a committee or focus group making certain that the end result is “nice.” I felt the need to produce something that was raw and real, as life truly is, not just what we aspire to.
The more shocking to our sense of what’s “right,” the better. That’s why I sought out the worst pedophile I could find (with a list of the most horrible convictions you can imagine) and a beautiful and innocent little girl (photographed with her mother’s consent of the pairing of images). If the viewer cringes from the pairing that’s great. I think a lot of us don’t think what you see in Created Equal exists in our city, but take a look at your neighborhood’s Megan’s list website sometime and tell me how “nice” your town is. Every city in the U.S. has sex offenders, prostitutes, drug addicts along with wonderful humanitarians, philanthropists and leaders. I aimed to depict our country as it is, not as we would like to think it is.
You can read the complete interview at http://turnstylenews.com/2011/02/14/slideshow-mark-laitas-created-equal/
By Jim McKinniss