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Taken in water : the photograph as memorial image in Sally Mann’s Deep South

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library
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After spending nearly ten years working on the project Immediate Family (1984-91), Southern photographer Sally Mann (b. 1951) turned her camera to the surrounding lush, bucolic and ephemeral Virginia landscape, in a subtle transition she describes as the children slowly slipping from the frame, the landscape coming into primary focus. Using her large-format vintage camera with damaged lenses, sometimes installed in reverse, Mann employed the nineteenth-century wet collodion technique to create atmospheric and haunting images of the Virginia, Georgia and Mississipi landscapes in two sequential bodies of work entitled Mother Land (1996) and Deep South (1998). Mann’s landscapes examine the uneasy confluence of past and present, history and memory, life and death. Through close looking at one image, Untitled (Mississippi Landscape), this paper explores the intersection of personal and public memory and investigates how photographs have the particular power to function as memorial images.

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