Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sally Mann - what the public sees

Sally Mann - cover image from Immediate Family

In this weekend edition of The New York Times magazine Sally Mann looks back at her career and talks candidly about the controversy that raged when in 1992 the photographs of her children were published in her bookwork Immediate Family.

In September 1992, I published my third book of photographs, “Immediate Family.” The book contained 60 photographs from a decade-­long series of more than 200 pictures of my children, Emmett, Jessie and Virginia, who were about 6, 4 and 1 when I started the project. The photographs show them going about their lives, sometimes without clothing, on our farm tucked into the Virginia hills. For miles in all directions, there was not a breathing soul. When we were on the farm, we were isolated, not just by geography but by the primitive living conditions: no electricity, no running water and, of course, no computer, no phone. Out of a conviction that my lens should remain open to the full scope of their childhood, and with the willing, creative participation of everyone involved, I photographed their triumphs, confusion, harmony and isolation, as well as the hardships that tend to befall children — bruises, vomit, bloody noses, wet beds — all of it.

I expected that the book would be received in much the same way as the one I published four years earlier, “At Twelve.” That book, which showed pictures of young girls on the cusp of adolescence, resulted in modest attention and took about a decade to sell out its small press run. That’s not what happened with “Immediate Family.” Within three months, it sold out its first printing of 10,000...

The overwhelming response was due, in part, to an article about my work by Richard B. Woodward that appeared as a cover story in this magazine around the time the book came out. During the three days of interviews at my home, I was a sitting duck, preening on her nest without the least bit of concealment.

You can read the complete article HERE. And the original piece, The Disturbing Photography of Sally Mann, by Richard B. Woodward HERE.

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