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I adore Sally Mann's photography
In Britain, perceptions of Mann are particularly skewed because she has never had a solo exhibition here. That omission will be put right next month, at the in London, with a show representing different phases of a career that began in the 1970s. The Immediate Family series is complemented by haunting studies of the grown-up faces of her children, Emmet, Jessie and Virginia, all now in their 20s. Mann's identity as a southern artist (she grew up near, and still lives among, the of Virginia) is expressed in a series of landscapes, focusing on swamps and trees. Most challenging of all are her photographs of decomposing bodies as they melt into and meld with the land.
This is one of my favorite photographs by one of my favorite photographers, Sally Mann. I however don't like that the photograph is cropped. I think the truck with the gorgus license plate is necessary to the photograph.
The Disturbing Photography of Sally Mann - The New York Times
Mann has always described these photos as a collaboration – Jessie, in particular, seems to revel in the role of model, whether wearing a pearl necklace or brandishing a candy cigarette. Signs of upset, injury and danger abound – a bloody nose, a wet bed, a skin rash, an approaching (plastic?) alligator – but the children came through OK and continue to pose for their mother.
Sally Mann - Candy cigarette - 1989 is that a kid on stilts in the background? And I remember getting a spanking for buying that candy as a kid.
The Camera of Sally Mann and the Spaces of Childhood
Maintaining the dignity of my subjects has grown to be, over the years, an imperative in my work, both in the taking of the pictures and in their presentation. As my father weakened with brain cancer, I tried to photograph him, in the manner of Richard Avedon or Jim Goldberg, whose work I admire. But I put away my camera when I began to see that photographing his loss of dignity would cause him pain. (Once, after his death, I was asked what he had died from, and I replied, “Terminal pride.”) I did not take a picture on the day that Larry picked up my father in his arms and carried him like a child to the bathroom, both of their faces anguished. To do so would have been crossing a line.
Next year, Mann will be 60, and she frets about becoming old news. The London exhibition is a worry, too: if the current fashion is for coolness and cerebralism, will we Brits find her too passionate, romantic, melancholy, sentimental? But the show has been a success in Scandinavia. And there's the reassurance of knowing how many photographs of Larry and the children she hasn't yet shown. "I think of it as my aesthetic savings account – and I'm not talking about money. Whatever fleeting discomfort I felt or caused while taking them, those photos are worth much more. It's like having written Ulysses and put it under the bed. Forgive me – that does sound hubristic."
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This famous photo, named “Candy Cigarette,” belongs to Sally Mann
It's exasperating in several ways: because the photographs in question – published in the book , in 1992 – made her famous for the wrong reasons; because critics exaggerated the intimacy of the photos at the expense of their artfulness; and because the American religious right accused her of pornography when her camera was capturing beauty and transience. "I've counted," Mann says. "Out of the 65 photos in the book, only 13 show the children naked. There was no internet in those days. I'd never seen child pornography. It wasn't in people's consciousness. Showing my children's bodies didn't seem unusual to me. Exploitation was the farthest thing from my mind."
Sally Mann Candy Cigarette 1989 - Sally Mann is one of …
There are various sources for Mann's preoccupation with mortality. The shooting of an escaped prisoner in the grounds of her farm in Lexington. The death of her greyhound, Eva, whose bones – retrieved from the cage in which Mann had buried her – she later photographed ("That was when I learned how efficient death is. After 14 months, the skeleton had been picked completely clean"). Or, years before, the death of her father, for which she was present and which set her wondering, "Where did all of that him-ness go?" Even the photographs of her children are littered with memento mori: a dead deer in one, a dead weasel in another.
Photograph: Sally Mann/Gagosian Gallery ..
Oscar Wilde, when attacked in a similar ad hominem way, insisted that it is senseless to speak of morality when discussing art, asserting that the hypocritical, prudish and philistine English public, when unable to find the art in a work of art, instead looked for the man in it. But as much as I argued this point, other voices still insisted that the rules were different for a mother. This is a typical sentiment from a Times letter: A mother should not “troll the naked images of her children through waters teeming with pedophiles, molesters and serial killers. Sally Mann’s photos not only put her children at risk, but all the other children in Lexington, Va., as well.” This got to me, too. All the other children of Lexington?
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