26 Different Endings

British photographer Mark Power returns to the dialogue between real and imaginary space that characterised his successful book, The Shipping Forecast (1996). Once again the premise for this work is a map, in this case the outer limits of the great sprawl of London as defined by the A to Z.

Taking each page of the atlas as his guide, Mark Power has embarked on an epic quest into a kind of local unknown, an overbuilt environment where all buildings look like ruins. It is a voyage into a form of melancholy emptiness where the energies of the city evaporate into a strange kind of inertia, conditioned by flat white skies and a generous expanse of pebble-dash. David Chandler’s autobiographical short story, written in response to Power’s pictures, delves deeper into this state of mind, drawing on a vivid picture of both the emotional and physical landscape of his childhood.

“To live and work here,” writes David Chandler, drawing on his own experience of growing up on the edge of South West London, “is in many ways to be trapped by it’s sense of unending dislocation; trapped because the area – like urban peripheries all over the world – fosters lifestyles where place and identity become irrelevant, and where time drifts forward inevitably but lifelessly, like a mechanical heartbeat.”

Power writes, ‘I did not grow up at the edge of London- I spent the vast majority of my childhood in a suburban sprawl on the edge of Leicester. Three miles from the city centre, Oadby had once been a tiny village but it had been consumed by the growth of the city, and, therefore, it became no different from thousands of other such places all over the country. As the spaces between the city and the town were filled there was a sense that nothing was planned anymore. Things were just put. So I grew up not in Leicester itself, but somewhere on the edge, in a messy, incoherent place that clung limply to it’s ‘village’ status. That, I realised after I’d completed 26 Different Endings, was my real inspiration in making it’.

 

“The large landscape format of this book and the fine Italian printing encourages the reader to study in detail these quiet and thought provoking images, revealing Power to be one of the best photographers of place and the built environment currently at work today.”

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