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Mary Ellen Mark: Prom, the American ritual

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Senior prom is a near mandatory ritual for American teenagers. Prom, the latest work by the photographer Mary Ellen Mark, celebrates this event, long associated with losing one’s virginity. From 2006 to 2009, Mark visited thirteen private and public US schools to photograph young men and women in evening dress. In these medium-format and Polaroid images, we discover touching moments, seductive poses, and a healthy dose of formality. With her usual talent, Mark has managed not to turn her subjects into glamorous stars. This black-and-white series is also the opportunity for Mark to reveal something of her private life by sharing a photograph taken at her own prom in 1958. It is an event that she also remembers through the dress she wore and regrets losing. Her husband Martin Bell is a film director who conducted a series of interviews with the students for this project. If the book depicts the setting and style, the DVD that comes with it will tell us about the dreams, fears and futures of these teenagers.

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