Unlike many of his contemporaries, photojournalist Mark Edward Harris turns away from catastrophe and conflict, revolution and revelry, instead concentrating his gaze on the moments in between. The Los Angeles-based photographer’s current exhibition at East/West Gallery is an expansive selection of everyday moments, masterfully distilled.
Consciously avoiding the overstated, Harris nevertheless offers a sweeping vision that spans the emotional spectrum. From the absurdity of a cow that has planted itself firmly in the middle of a silk shop in India to the poignant reality of a small Vietnamese boy standing barefoot in the street with a baby lashed to his back, this photographer presents his vision with equal servings of grace and humility.
Titled Wanderlust, the exhibition draws from the armory of images Harris composed on his world tours. An editorial photographer whose work has graced the pages of Conde Nast, Harper’s Bazaar, and Marie Claire, Harris is an explorer as much of the soul as of the globe. His empathetic consideration and poetic perspective combine in images that are at once enlightening visions and impassioned celebrations of their subjects. It is a celebration we are invited to join.
Three camera-shy ladies on a bench in Pamplona, Spain, solicit our hesitant mirth. We are thrust among a throng of witnesses to marvel at the formation of a Sun Serpent along the stairs of an ancient Mexican pyramid during the equinox. Our spirits and inhibitions are freed as we join a handful of frivolous boys somersaulting onto a sandy beach in the Marshall Islands. Harris doesn’t just convey a scene; he places us firmly within it.
In Harris’s photographs, differences are celebrated, folly is embraced, and people are accepted simply for who they are. While it is a visually majestic exploration on which Harris leads us, it is also a quietly reassuring one. This is life captured as it unfolds. It is not brash or violent. It is not overstated or shrill. It is simple and touching and precious. And, most importantly, it is happening all around us.