donderdag 3 april 2008

Sally Mann Feminine Personal & Macabre Photography

In the swarm of artistically minded boomers who matured in the 1970s, there were thousands who hoped to become filmmakers or photographers. Many of the photographers--working with sophisticated cameras that can produce an occasional striking image almost without human intervention--won a brief success. But three successive decades have drastically winnowed their numbers, and only a few now stand in the ranks of mastery that include such predecessors as Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans.

Tall among them is Sally Mann. After she completed college, Mann, 50, returned to her hometown in Virginia. There she and her lawyer husband have raised a family, and Mann has carried out the duties of wife and mother with the fixed concentration visible in all her art. Till the children left home, she focused her camera on her immediate periphery--the encircling mountains, her rural and small-town neighbors, her parents, her handsome husband and her son and two daughters.

It was her photographs of the children, published in 1992 as Immediate Family, that brought Mann's work to the attention of a wide audience. Mann recorded a combination of spontaneous and carefully arranged moments of childhood repose and revealingly--sometimes unnervingly--imaginative play. What the outraged critics of her child nudes failed to grant was the patent devotion involved throughout the project and the delighted complicity of her son and daughters in so many of the solemn or playful events. No other collection of family photographs is remotely like it, in both its naked candor and the fervor of its maternal curiosity and care.

In this decade Mann has ventured from home more frequently. First, she turned to pictures of her surroundings. More recently, she has taken her incomparably truthful large-frame camera farther south, into Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana. From the heart of the Old South's dark history she has returned with eloquent images--devoid of human presence--of the rivers and thickets that continue to harbor our whole country's greatest mystery: how human beings, in the midst of such fecund natural beauty, have continued to be so relentlessly inhuman.

Few photographers of any time or place have matched Sally Mann's steadiness of simple eyesight, her serene technical brilliance and the clearly communicated eloquence she derives from her subjects, human and otherwise--subjects observed with an ardor that is all but indistinguishable from love.

Reynolds Price is the author of more than 30 books, including Kate Vaiden, for which he received the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1986

Read more the family photographs of Sally Mann ... & L.P. Polhuis family album ...

Lees over Sally Mann ...

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