Marlon James's images are striking. The eyes, the faces, the stares won't quit. The images live with you as you think about what era the images are from, who the people are and how they relate to each other. There is something captured which is much more intense than found in everyday encounters or maybe it is that his timing and technique are superb.
Mark and Gisele
In 2010, James' images were shown at two major surveys of West Indian/ Caribbean Art. In fact the latter exhibition, Wrestling with the Image, is still open at the Art Museum of the Americas in Washington D.C. His image of two young artists standing side by side staring out at the audience has become the poster image of the show. In a sense it is very representative of what we know of 'The Caribbean Spirit' with hints of defiance but with great insight into the personas. One thing that can be noticed is the contrast in the heritage of the two individuals in this solitary but intimate scene. However this is very basic to that Caribbean experience as skin color, gender, and other external classifications are often not important in the connections we form with others who share a vision or an understanding. In looking at the two, we think about what connection these two have to each other, what their creative work might be and how they view the world individually and as a collective unit.
James shared some information about his process and work in general:
'To answer your first question, my set up is either an arrangement of one to three lights, this is all dependent on the mood that I wish to convey in the photograph. When I first started this project I used only film. The camera that I was using was a Mamiya 645 Pro TL, a medium format film SLR. I now use a Canon Mark II 5D. For your second question, I have always been drawn towards the the human body. It is and will always be my primary subject. I feel there is so much to explore when photographing people. From the details of their skin, to the language of their bodies. My work in the past 2-4years was focused on the anatomy of the body, both male and female. I mainly focused on the female as I felt that women were more open towards exploration than their male counterpart. What's next? Well I am presently continuing my project on portrait of artists, for which my ultimate intention is to publish a coffee-table book of these photographs of Jamaica's art world.'