Photography: Barbados’ Mark King Discusses His Work

Mark King (aka Markings) is a Barbados-based photographer. This year, he has been in residence, developing a new project at Alice Yard (80 Roberts Street in Woodbrook, Port of Spain, Trinidad). He was recently (June 15, 2012) featured at the Yard in “A Conversation with Mark King.” A world traveler, King has lived in Barbados, the Bahamas, Belgium, and the United States (and mentions London, Chicago, Vancouver, Brussels, San Francisco, and Berlin, as some of the cities that he has enjoyed). The Alice Yard team writes: “His international experience directly informs his projects. As a constant outsider, Mark’s work examines the people he encounters during his travels as well as his relationship with an ever-changing environment.” Here are excerpts from a fascinating 2011 interview with Abby Wilcox (for Live Fast):

LF: Tell us a little bit about your evolving style…

MK: My style has its origins from when I was working on my thesis project. At the time I needed to shoot something other than my thesis to stay sane. Leaving the Hasselblad and digital slr at home, I opted for disposable cameras when exploring the city. Easy to carry and conceal, they also provided a fresh approach to image making. Once I was finished with my thesis, I bought a proper 35mm point and shoot (Leica Mini II). I carried that Mini II everywhere. I felt the need to develop my own style. To see differently. [. . .] I would soon quit my job and move back to Barbados after 19 years of living overseas. This made me determined to continue developing my style, which meant documenting my new life in this strange, yet familiar place. The transition to taking portraits came next. I approached my portraits in the similar way to my documentary work with the focus on having fun, exploring locations, and capturing the mood of the environment. [. . .]

LF: You spent most of your life in the States, and studied photography in San Francisco, but then went back to your native country Barbados. How do you think the States shaped you as a photographer, and how do you think Barbados changed you as a photographer?

MK: The States introduced me to the world of photography. I got my first camera at 16 while living in Brussels and moved to the US the summer before senior year. I put in many darkroom hours in high school and undergrad. It wasn’t until my first internship in In Style Magazine’s photo department that I seriously considered photography as an option. After In Style, I went back to DC and enrolled in a few photo classes outside of school. When graduation came I was faced with a choice; join the real world and find a job as an advertising account executive or pursue an MFA in photography at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. I chose San Francisco. San Francisco is where I learned how to take photos. Moving to Barbados allowed me to concentrate on becoming a better photographer.

LF: We want to hear a little bit more about Barbados. What inspires you there? What is the art scene like there? If you could bring anything to Barbados – in relationship to art – what would it be?

MK: Barbados is a small island with a lot to offer, inspiration wise. [. . .] For me, it’s the cultural customs, friends, family, beaches, gullies, the countryside, and night sky that provide the inspiration. [. . .] I’m working with some great people on bringing an arts festival to Barbados this October. We’re doing workshops, a pop-up artist’s lounge, as well as a music showcase. The arts community is hungry in the Caribbean. People are starting to unite and make things happen for themselves. If you ever want to check out what’s happening in the arts in Barbados go to Projects & Space, Fresh Milk Barbados, Manifesto Barbados and Arc Magazine for insight into the wider Caribbean art scene.

For original Alice Yard post, see http://aliceyard.blogspot.com/2012/06/conversation-with-mark-king.html

For full interview with Live Fast, see http://livefastmag.com/2011/09/rising-star-mark-king/

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