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"In Portraits of Saying Goodbye, I use the camera as a tool in my own invented ritual to add meaning to my relationships.

When I was young, about six or seven, my mother would realize in a panic that I wasn’t in the house. She would find me on a neighbour’s porch, usually, the porch of an old person, plying them with questions. During these excursions, I learned how to shear sheep, play the pipe organ, mix concrete, and install crown moulding. I was once given a border collie that my parents made me return.

I haven’t ever outgrown that way of engaging with the world. However, I have realised that my compulsion to ask questions, hear the answers, and tell stories is a tool that helps me connect with other people. Connection makes me feel like a participant, not just a spectator.

During the last ten years, I haven’t lived in one place for more than two. Wherever I have been, I have gathered a family. During time spent with these people to whom I feel connected, I can’t help but feel a melancholic sense that the moment will end. I resonate with the Japanese phrase ‘mono no aware (物の哀れ)’. This expression speaks of the quiet,
yearning sadness caused by the awareness of the transience of things. Along with that sadness, however, elation and celebration that it happened and that you got to be there.

When I take a portrait it is like a ceremony to set aside that person, to sanctify what I
value most. In the words of Anthony Kiedis, “all I want is for you to be happy and take this
moment to make you my family"""

HEY! MY NAME IS...

MFA PHOTOGRAPHY

MARK A BELL