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Did anyone see Sally Mann on Charlie Rose tonight talking about her new book?
Fascinating photographs and an intriguing photographer (I love her technique - "I don't have a light meter and I just pop my hand in front of the lens and guess 1/2 a second, two seconds..").
I'm sorry I missed it; I'll have to keep an eye out for the repeat this weekend.
While I've been a fan of Sally Mann's work for some time, I have to say that after spending some time studying her new book, I find it...enigmatic.
Glad to see someone else who greeted "What Remains" with puzzlement. I've been a big fan of hers for a long time, I've seen any exhibit I could get to, bought her books, saw her ealier video about "Immediate Family" four or five times, but "What Remains" was a disappointment. I did buy it in the hopes that further study would reveal why the book was deemed worthy of publication (other than the fact that it has her name on it) but so far further study hasn't changed my original opinion. One has to be a little careful I think about not assuming something is great just because other works have been great. No great artist produces great work every time, all have their indifferent, decent, and great work. Even Mozart produced some duds (of course he was about eight years old at the time) and so far "What Remains" looks like her dud to me.
My first impression of her book was a less staged version of JP Witkin but a lot of that may be the subject matter. I only saw the book once and may not have 'got it'. Sometimes an explanation of a photograph allows a better understanding..kinda like Sister Wendy ;-)
I have seen some of Ms. Mann's work in a local gallery, some of the "Immediate Family" series, and some of the large (30"+ x 40"+) Virginia and Georgia landscapes. And I have seen reproductions in books, including the "What Remains" book. There is no comparison, the prints exhibited signifcant impact. Some work doesn't transfer to the book format well, and I suspect, not having seen the prints, that the "What Remains" series is such work. I find her work, and her technique is very subtle. The closest work I can relate it to is Harry Callahan's double exposure series, a risky approach, but sublime when it works. But that's my opinion, for what its worth.
I'd agree 100% (and as someone who's technical training in photogoraphy was as a SOCO - Scenes of Crime Officer and who has also photogorpahed quite a few bodies as a Coroner I probably find her concept and photogorphs in this project more interesting and less threatening (?) than some).
I have a friend who lives fairly near to her who is also a photogorpaher and whose husband, like Mann's is a lawyer, and who knows her in a social sort of way. She once described Mann as being both naive and incredibly aware at the same time. I think that came across in the interview and shows in her work.
But what also amazes me are these coincidences - which somehow seem to often happen to those involved in what you might describe as a hightened state of creative awareness - here she is in an exploration of death and how the land deals with the dead for us - her greyhound, the body farm, decompostion. And then in the middle of the project, the local sheriffs chase a crazed, heavily armed escaped convict (who was also probablky headign for her farmhouse, where she was on her own) onto her front garden - her daily arcadian view from her window - where he shoots himself dead durng a gun battle, right in front of her eyes - leaving physical and mental scars on her land. And so her exploration swtiches almost 180 degrees and she begins to look at how death effects the landscape rather than how the landscape effects death.
I agree about the prints and the books - I remember seeing "Motherland" - I have the books and it is lovely, but to see the prints was stunning.
In a weird sort of way, I found the "death" photos to be the most interesting and understandable. What I didn't understand were some of the landscapes. I owned a small farm right on the edge of Antietam NB for a while, and I just didn't get her interpretation of the place. I've been to Lexington, VA on a number of ocassions, which is very similar, at least in landscape, to western MD, so I understand her feel for the bucolics she exhibits in her previous works, but What Remains is just lost on me. Then again I look at some of the crap I've produced, and I'm just as puzzled.
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