An American in Marseille. The internationally-renowned French port comes alive in John Mack's five year's worth of wanderings amongst its streets.
As legend has it, several Greek galleys arriving from Phocaea (Asia Minor) in search of trade opportunities made landfall in 600BC upon the shores of Lacydon Creek. That very day, the king of the native tribe inhabiting the area was to marry off his daughter, Gyptis, to a native suitor. It just so happens that Gyptis, upon their encounter, falls for Protis, leader of the Greek expedition, and their marriage marks the founding of Massilia, present-day Marseille.
Some 2,600 years later photographer John Mack takes to the streets of Lacydon Creek,-now famously known as Marseille's Vieux Port-a vibrant, rugged, port whose evolution over the course of time has stayed true to its founding legend of foreign immigrants posed with the task of confronting native identities. Though a latent, explosive energy runs through these streets, the famous "Marseillais" identity provides a fragile yet strong, common ground which simultaneously both fortifies and merges one identity and another: distant friends; close enemies.
Before being European, or French for that matter, Marseille is first Marseillais, and any visitor is indeed in "their house." Comprised of 100 black-and-white street photographs taken between 2011 and 2016, Mack's imagery challenges us to reflect upon our own identities and any inherent impediments they may pose in the merging with our native selves. "Who," asks Mack, "are YOU, chez eux?"
About the Author
Thinker and artist John Mack shares the poetry of nature as a counterpoint toward a world that is every day becoming all the more dependent on digital devices and algorithmic feeds. In 2021 Mack founded Life Calling Initiative, a not-for-profit aimed at helping society to live fulfilled lives in the digital age while retaining our humanity and personal autonomy. This is achieved through a diverse set of tools and activities, including, but not limited to, awareness campaigns, education, art, lectures, and programming. Among the initiatives is A Species Between Worlds: Our Nature, Our Screens, an interactive photography exhibition that questions how a balance between our connection to nature and today’s growing device-dependence might be attained.
In his early career as a photographer, Mack sought "real moments" of the human heart. His first publication, Xibalbá: Lost Dreams of the Mexican Rainforest (2005), exhibited in Mexico City, tells the story of the risk to the human imagination and to sacred culture in the wake of an environment's exploitation and destruction. A later publication, Revealing Mexico (2010), exhibited in Rockefeller Center's Channel Gardens, brought the soft poetry of Mexico's land and people into the heart of New York City's bustling streets. Mack later published Marseille: At Their Home (2018), a collection of black and white street photography in the port city of Marseille, France.
Mack has appeared on Charlie Rose, The Martha Stewart Show, and The Today Show. He received third prize in the category of photography at the 25th Annual New York Book Show for Revealing Mexico. Mack’s photography is represented by the Robert Mann Gallery in New York City.