Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Exhibition - Sally Mann

I recently visited Stockholm, Sweden and spent an afternoon in the Fotografiska Museum which was dedicated solely to photography. They had three exhibitions on during the time I was there and the one I spent the most time in and enjoyed the most featured work by Sally Mann. Her website is here and she is an American photographer based in Virginia. She first became known for her book Immediate Family (published in the 1990s) which contained shots of her three children growing up. It became very controversial and a lot of religious and moral groups raised questions of child pornography etc due to the nudity in many of the images. Personally I think this is ridiculous. The children were raised in quite a rural setting and I love that the collection captures growing up so well with the bumps, bruises, arguments etc.

The exhibition contained a broad range of her work including shots from Immediate Family all the way to her recent self portraits and work in a forensic study centre in Tennesse where she photographed bodies in various stages of decay. Possibly the most interesting part was a documentary playing shot during her time taking the forensic photographs and trying (and failing) to get them shown in a gallery in New York. It was a touching look at her life, surrounding friends and family and her whole photographic process. She is also doing a series with her husband Larry who she met as a young woman (19 versus his 22). He suffers from a rare incurable form of muscular dystrophy which sees his muscles wasting away.

She uses a technique from the 1800s. A collodion wet plate which creates a large-format negative image on glass, not film. She shoots with antique view cameras from the early 1900s, the kind where you duck under a cloth to take the picture. They are carried on massive wooden tripod legs and a long brass lens held together with tape. I can't even begin to understand how to use one when I'm so used to digital, but the process of developing the negative is fascinating. Below are a few of my favourite pictures that really captured my attention. Funnily enough they are all from Immediate Family and I think I will have to get a copy of the book to have a proper look and read all the captions in full. My absolute stand out favourite is Jessie Bites. I love the bitemark on the adult arm, the war paint and the expression on Jessie's face. She looks like a little warrior Queen just after a successful battle.

Popsicle Drips

Orange Virginia

Three Graces

Emmet's Blood Nose

Jessie Bites


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