CONTEXTUAL RESEARCH WEEK 9 ( PART 3 ) - Researching Photographers – Mann
23rd November 2019
In June 2019 I started my MA with Falmouth university as part of an accredited education programme.
Contextual research week 9 – Government and council school enrolment - https://www.bambino-art.co.uk/government-and-council-school-enrolment/
Mann, Sally. The New York times. April 16th 2015. (First accessed 06-08-2019)
Sally Mann lived with her children on their farm in South-west Virginia whilst they were growing up.
Her third photobook “Immediate family” was released in 1992 by Aperture, containing photographs of her three children Jessie, Virginia & Emmett ( Ages 6/4/1 when she started the project) enjoying and living life at their home, surrounded by nature and submerged in the life of the land, living by the seasons.
Her photographs show ordinary every day scenes of living family life “Many of these pictures are intimate , some are fictions, some are fantastic, but most are of everyday things, that every mother has seen – a wet bed, a bloody nose, candy cigarettes.” (Mann 2014)
Given my recent feedback about some of my images feeling staged, I find this quote from Immediate family very poignant “When the good pictures come , we hope they tell truths, but truths “told slant,” just as Emily Dickenson commanded. We are spinning a story of what it is to grow up. ” ( Mann 2014 )
Related to my talking of the light & dark & shadows in my work being symbolisms of the beauty and truth, and hardships and pressures of home education, Mann writes in the foreword for Immediate family “Theres the paradox : We see the beauty and we see the dark side of things; the cornfields and the full sails, but the ashes as well.” ( Mann 2014) Interestingly, I have just returned from a photoshoot where the family were keeping a glass cabinet reminiscent of the victorian curiosity cabinets, with selections of birds nests, bones of animals found on their land, feathers, and fur, flowers, and creations of clay. As the light fell across that cabinet illuminating the bones of the creatures living and dying on their land , I was struck by this beauty of life and death, memento mori.
Mann was pretty crucified in the media and by the public for her images, and I think now more than ever they tear apart opinion, as views over what is, and isn’t acceptable to show of children in regards to nudity,is at the forefront of our minds because of the online world we live in, and the horror stories in the News about such things. We also now have the added question mark over sharing images on social media that young children cannot consent too. I find some of Mann’s images difficult. Not because I think there is on iota of anything inappropriate about taking photographs of your children when they happened to be naked, but because I feel I am intruding on a personal moment.
In my oral presentation for last module I said ” I found myself trying to pin point what it is outside of the children’s nakedness that makes people uncomfortable about Manns work , I found the way her children keep eye contact with the camera unsettling like we are intruding in their space, observers in a private family moment. ” (Graham, Rebecca . Oral presentation . https://www.bambino-art.co.uk/oral-presentation-positions-practice/ July 2019 )
Some of the images that I find totally captivating of Manns are -
- Easter dress 1986 Gelatin silver print 18.5″ x 22″
- Artnet : Past Auction : http://www.artnet.com/artists/sally-mann/easter-dress-zwjdebUEy3Efsq_uWaygmg2 (First accessed 23.11.29 )
Fallen Child 1989 Gelatin Silver print 18 3/4 ” by 23 “
Collection online : Mann, Sally : Fallen Child. https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/10391 (First accessed 23.11.19 )
Sorry game , 1989. Gelatin Silver Print 19.5″ x 23.4″
Artnet : Past Auctions : http://www.artnet.com/artists/sally-mann/sorry-game-from-immediate-family-a4FRbP4P7adkexKL0CJE-w2 (First Accessed 23.11.19 )
Mann, Sally : 2014 : Immediate family : Aperture : New York.
Sally Manns Exposure : New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/19/magazine/the-cost-of-sally-manns-exposure.html?_r=1
Immediate family the photobook sold out of its initial print run of 10,000 within 3 months. It certainly seemed it was adored as much as criticised. Interesting comparisons were made with Tierney Gearon’s work with her children in our last module. I struggle much more with gearons work much more than Mann’s but theoretically I shouldn’t do, they are , after all the same thing. I do find the use of Mann’s black and white, over Gearons bright brash colours much more ‘easier’ to view as art. I think with Mann’s black and whites it is easy to feel nostalgic over days gone by, an easier time of life, and childhood, that seems it has passed now. Whereas Gearons large scale photographs in their full saturated colour remind us of the failings of our own generations, the fact that you cannot take a naked photograph of a child now, and it just be a photograph of a child, it has to be a naked photograph of a child. Gearons images are hard, sadly, because our world is hard.