Sunday, 26 May 2013

MARK LEBON and the nuclear power station

Now that Mark will not mark my work anymore, I can write about him.
'Did you take that picture?'

It's the first thing I remember Mark saying when I met him in a portfolio review during my interview for London College of Fashion. The next thing I remember him saying is ‘don’t come here, you are not going to learn much, you already know what we can teach you, give me a good reason why you should do this course’. And it was that negativity that drove me to study in the University of Arts of London. I wanted Mark to be my teacher and find out why he thought I would not learn much there. During that first meeting we had already discussed this and that concerning art and photography, and we exceeded the allocated interview time by three times.

Since then, many days in college have passed trying to gain some attention from Mark to my work. I feel somehow satisfied when I read in my previous term's feedback sheet: ‘Excuse my minimalism in this sheet. Thank God I have not found a page with Risk Assessments in this project. I tried to get a B, but had to be an A despite my efforts.
Feedback sheets are usually filled with very detailed information about your weaknesses and what you should pay attention to, to keep improving your work. Mark's feedback was not very detailed this time; but there has never been anything that has motivated me more to improve in my school projects than getting an A from Mark.
It is practically the only reason that made me decide to study at this university.

Wait, who’s Mark Lebon? Well, if you ask this to any photography student at college they will tell you ‘he’s the guy who shot the first cover of Madonna for ID in the 80s.’ Or ‘he’s the father of Tyrone Lebon, you know the work of Tyrone Lebon, right?'.
 For some students, Mark is a kind of myth wandering around the school corridors.  The first time you see him, you might feel scared to talk to him, but if you sit next to him, you might end up listening to any story about the past or the present of this city. He makes you want to be part of his movie club back in the day,  or open one of his old fanzines, or buy I-D with his covers in the nineties, or maybe be in one of those old parties he talks about.
You can mention almost anyone from the London fashion, art and photography scene and Mark will tell you something interesting about them.
He sounds like a legend, but he would never introduce himself as a legend, and it is one of the reasons that attracts me to his person. Mark wants to share with you all these stories, and really teach you what he knows. You can see that knowledge sharing in the work of his eldest son, Tyrone Lebone (not wanting to put Tyrone Lebone’s work down to his father, but I think it's worth noting that he might have learnt something from his father's practice. )

Mark's photography is about the here and now, and if you look at the pictures of the past they're about the there and then.
When I took this photo of Mark, I had no time to think. Being used to working in the academic context in which we have to write about thirty pages and mention about fifty artists before a photo shoot, one expects to have to write an essay to get to photograph your teacher. But I did not have to write a single word or think too much to photograph Mark, it was as easy as saying 'I'd like to take a picture of you'. I have spent about three months studying how to interpret Greek myths in my photography not very successfully I have to say. Then while developing this picture the other day in the lab at school I realized I finally got my Greek Myth picture. This is the picture of my Zeus of photography in Mount Olympus with a nuclear power station in the background.
Thank you for giving me the present of taking your picture.
Always with admiration and love,
from Coco to Mark.

Puedes leer este artículo en español en la ABSOLUT Network