'Eurovisions: Ten Magnum Photographers in the New Europe' at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (15/09/05 – 17/10/05); Triennale, Milan, Italy (12/01/06 - 12/02/06); Centre for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland; Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest, Hungary (08/06/06 – 27/08/06); Musées royaux des Beaux Arts, Brussells, Belgium (09/03/07 – 01/07/07)
In the summer of 2004 a poll conducted by the French newspaper Liberation revealed an alarming lack of public knowledge of the ten new nations due to join the European Union later that year. In response, the world famous co-operative agency Magnum invited their photographers to submit proposals to visit one of them. Power, elected to Magnum in 2007 and a nominee member since 2002, was selected to travel to Poland. The originality of his approach and his reputation for recording space with a unique sensitivity made him an obvious candidate.
Power’s research in Poland evolved into something approaching a survey, in the manner of the 19th-century American photographers of the new West, such as Carleton Watkins and Timothy O’Sullivan. Originating with one month-long visit, Power soon expanded the scale of his research and made over twenty separate trips in the course of this project. His intention was to investigate the effects of new European funding, and the opportunities that came with it which, as he had suspected, were unevenly distributed. No other photographers, and none within Poland itself, were recording contemporary changes from this perspective. ‘The Sound of Two Songs’, as Power titled this work, presented an extensive outsider’s view of a country at a critical point of transition, creating a visual encounter with the past and its often sinister yet unspoken legacy.
The Magnum exhibition, sponsored by the French telecommunications company Alcatel and organised under the patronage of the presidents of the European Parliament and European Commission, opened at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2005. It has since toured to another four major venues around Europe and has been seen by over 100,000 people. Power’s work has relevance to broad international audiences and through Magnum showcases British photography and the research rigour that makes it distinctive.