Sally Mann

Watched the last half of this two hour doc. (the rest is taped and yet to be watched) a few nights ago. Sally Mann What Remains is the name both of the documentary and this series of work. I found it fascinating as it deals with death, the artists' process as well as her lifestyle and environment.

The theme is death and decay, which after 9/11 and her fathers' death, apparently fueled this body of work. Sally even goes to a forensic park and is allowed to look at and photograph corpses in various stage of dress and decompose laying scattered about. She had a lot to say about death, having lost her father not too long ago and observing his fearlessness. I personally felt like a need got met seeing this documentary, a need to have the veil of death unraveled. The need to see another artist who has definitely had the spotlight on her many times, yet still go through trials and tribulations (she had a challenging time getting this work shown). Something as simple as watching her wake up and feed the goats or going for a walk with her son in the woods and talking about her work....about her doubts and frustrations in finding a place to exhibit it.

You may or may not be familiar with her earlier work, Immediate Family, which was and probably still is a highly controversial body of work about her children. The book is beautiful and yes, a little disturbing, but I admire her determination and passion to follow her vision as an artist.

Good stuff. Great mentor from afar, a living breathing artist who is not glamorous, not a sellout and someone I'm glad to know is out there, doing the work, day in and day out. More about Sally here.


Kim Hambric said...

So if I die and rot, I could be fodder for an artist. I'd be dead and it wouldn't bother me. I'd have to say, click away Sally (if I could, but I'd be dead).

I do think that her photos will leave (have left) a mark on her children. I have seen the photo of the naked girl with the pearls and earrings. If it were me, I'd feel violated.

self taught artist said...

yep, you could be forensic fodder.
i agree about how it could be violating or whatever...but her kids seem very much in her life so i guess they are cool with it, she still uses them (even in this series of death she used their faces).

San said...

Because of the death angle, I'm reminded of Albuquerque photographer Joel Peter-Witkin, who's done some stark work with corpses. Sally's seems more emotionally involved, however.

Daphne Enns said...

I watched a PBS doc. called "art 21" (I think). Sally Mann was in it. Her children and husband were interviewed as well. I can't imagine having to work so much as her children clearly have for their mothers art. There seemed to be some mixed emotions but a great deal of love and respect from her family. And I was amazed by Sally's focus and gravity.

Lynda Lehmann said...

Very interesting post! Thanks for the links.