‘Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings’
“Do the landscapes that we inhabit have a memory of us after we disappear? Does something of us remain caught in the branches, entangled with the grass? Do faces hold memories of their past and a hint of their future?” writes Carole Naggar. “These are some of the questions raised by a haunting exhibition of photographs by Sally Mann, which demonstrates that beauty can exist in the ruins of a destroyed building, a landscape overgrown with weeds, a familiar body made foreign by illness.
With over a hundred photographs, “Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings” is organized in five sections—Family, The Land, Last Measure, Abide With Me, and What Remains—each series seeming to contain the next hidden within it, and building upon it. Mann’s photographs of the American South move from the individual to the historical and back again, from the landscape to the people who inhabit it, to create a portrait of the fraught, striking, and evocative geography that is Mann’s home.
In a short film accompanying the exhibition, intense concentration lights Mann’s eyes, framed by round metal glasses. She has tied up her mane of gray hair. Like a cook or an alchemist involved in a mysterious process of transformation, she pours collodion, a syrup-like substance, from a beaker onto a rectangle of glass, then coats the glass with silver salts. Since the late 1990s, Mann has revived this nineteenth-century technique used by Civil War photographers. Given her preoccupation with the Southern landscape and the Civil War battlefields, it seems fitting that collodion was also used to treat the Civil War soldiers’ wounds: it is almost as if Mann wanted the collodion to bind her images as well.”
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