Sally Mann - London

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by Schlapp, Aug 5, 2010.

  1. Schlapp

    Schlapp Member

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    I recently visited Londinium on a quick visit and took in Sally Mann's work at the fantastic Photographer's Gallery.
    Loved her older family work but "What remains" did not do it for me. My question is; the large prints at the entrance level - collodion /ambrotype work printed on what was said to be silver gelatin did look anything of the kind.
    Has anyone seen this? Wondering if I am mistaken.
     
  2. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    Anyone who refers to Britain's capital by its old Roman name gets a high-five from me!

    I only wish I could answer your question :sad:
     
  3. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Subscriber

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    She prints on Ilford Multigrade FB paper, then varnishes it.
     
  4. Mike Crawford

    Mike Crawford Member

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  5. lns

    lns Member

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    I recall seeing a documentary about Sally Mann and the What Remains work, which showed her printing one or two of the pieces. I can't answer your question definitively, but my hazy memory is that they were, indeed, silver prints.

    The documentary is worth watching. I think it's called "What Remains."

    -Laura
     
  6. Ian Leake

    Ian Leake Subscriber

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    I have to admit that I struggled with many of the pictures in this exhibition. While her Immediate Family prints were mostly awesome, several seemed over-worked with intrusive dodging and burning (they seemed like 'rescued' prints where the negative contrast range was too high for normal use). I found the landscapes boring. I need to see her What Remains another time before I take a view on it.
     
  7. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Subscriber

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    After watching the documentary several times (I show it to students) and looking at and reading about the work, I understand what she was trying to accomplish with What Remains, but I still don't like the imagery, nor am I moved by it. The movie talks a lot about what inspired the series and I find that part very interesting. Her Immediate Family work is very good and may always be considered her best work.
     
  8. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Not sure if they are showing any of the Proud Flesh work in this show, but I think it's a return to what she does best... photographing those closest and most important to her, and I think the work is stronger than anything she's done since Immediate Family. The pictures are made as wet plate collodion on clear glass so they are negatives, and then are printed onto gelatin silver paper. Not sure if the prints I saw last year were varnished or not, but I don't think they were. It seems to have a similar emotional content as the work with her children, and I was quite moved by it.

    To Ian's point, I've seen some stunning prints of hers and some that looked like she was trying a little too hard to make something expressive of a not well exposed or developed negative. (I've seen a particularly bad print of The New Mothers which makes me think her negative kinda sucks!! Actually, it's a relief to know that even she may have had a few epic battles in the darkroom!!)
     
  9. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Subscriber

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    I hadn't seen the Proud Flesh images before, though they show her exposing them in the documentary. It follows her husband's struggle with late onset muscular dystrophy. As with What Remains, it depends in part on the defects she gets in the plates in addition to the actual image. She has stated before that she hopes she doesn't perfect the process and eliminate the serendipitous quality.

    I've seen only a handful of her prints in person, so I can't speak to the quality of her printing in general, just the 4 or 5 I saw at Art Basel Miami. They were stunning.
     
  10. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I greatly admire Sally Mann's work and although I would love to see the exhibition, a four hundred mile round trip is just is just too far to go.
     
  11. Schlapp

    Schlapp Member

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    Hey up. Twas 900miles each way for me!

    The family prints are just amazing I admit, however, I'm still not convinced the large prints in the entrance room of the London exhibition are silver gelatin, varnished or not.
     
  12. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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  13. Chris101

    Chris101 Member

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    Proud Flesh is just intense. For the curious, Aperture had an article about the series a year or so ago. While the subject matter is similar, the sytle of the photography was quite different than Immediate Family.
     
  14. Ian Leake

    Ian Leake Subscriber

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    I popped in on Sunday, and the large prints in the entrance room are definitely labelled: "Silver Gelatin Print with Varnish"
     
  15. sandholm

    sandholm Subscriber

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    I saw here work at Musée de l'Elysée, Lausanne, and i dont care for here work at al. Its blurred, out of focus, photographs of either nude children or dead people. They even had a movie about her and that just made me more sick. I also saw some picture of here pore dog that had died and after 6 months she had dug it up again and taken pictures of it, just plane sad.

    I consider here work either pornographic or just plane boring, like photographed /dead people/dead dogs/peeing nude children/, just to try to evoke peoples feeling, its just boring.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 16, 2010
  16. Schlapp

    Schlapp Member

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    Yes, I saw that too but wasn't convinced - although I respect the place enough to think they wouldn't try to pull the wool over my eyes.
     
  17. bill spears

    bill spears Member

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    I saw the exhibition and really enjoyed it. The immediate family images I thought were stunning and very beautiful and was actually quite moved by them. Taking pictures of kids in action on a 10x8 is no mean feat. I didn't notice any flaws in the printing because the strength of the images overided it.

    I questioned the large silver prints in the first room with girl on reception and was told they are indeed collodion negatives printed on silver gelatin paper.
    I'm not sure about her confession to liking all the flaws, dust and dirt getting in on the process. Is this an excuse for sloppy technique ?
     
  18. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    Yes
     
  19. Ian Leake

    Ian Leake Subscriber

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    I must admit that I don't really get wet plate collodion. Yes, it's an interesting and demanding process, but the argument that dust, crackles, blurs and thumbprints somehow enhance the photograph doesn't cut the mustard with me. That's a bit to much like art school conceptual art for my liking.

    With exception of Katie Cooke's fabulous still lifes, I don't think I've seen a single wet plate photo that wouldn't have been better made with film.

    It feels to me that in many cases, photographers are adopting wet plate either because it is fashionable or because they have lost their confidence. Neither of these are a sound foundation for making good art.

    I know this is partly a matter of taste, but it's also more than that. Boring pictures are boring pictures, even if they are made with a fashionable process.
     
  20. patrickjames

    patrickjames Member

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    I have never been a big fan of hers, but I do think the early work is good, although if her children were fat and ugly, no one would know or care who Sally Mann is today. She benefitted from the controversy, similar to Sturges, of adolescent nudity in her images whether she planned it or not. I am not too comfortable with some of it, but I would take it over Sturges' work any day of the week. At some point though her children, which were the subject of her success, didn't want to be photographed any more and I think that it caused her to try radically different things. Her work changed from a sort of honesty to relying on artifice or superficiality born out by the process of collodion. The fact that she wants all of the defects in the plate, and even encourages the defects, seems to be a crutch that could be the result of her insecurity after her great success. The images that came after her family work haven't been greatly received, and the dead body images even resulted in having a show cancelled. If you see this in the documentary, it clearly shows her questioning what was happening. Her return to photographing her family, by photographing her husband, can be seen as an attempt to return the familiar, to what made her a success. She is concentrating too much on the morose if you ask me.

    I have to disagree with Ian. I have seen many wonderful collodion images here and elsewhere as well. When the process doesn't interfere with the image, it can lend quite a stunning result that can't be duplicated easily, if at all, with film. I would remind Ian that the same could be said (although I am not saying it) for 8x10 platinum prints.
     
  21. Ian Leake

    Ian Leake Subscriber

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    That's pretty much how I see it too.

    I totally agree. And I've made some of them :smile:
     
  22. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I think that's the biggest challenge for wet plate. Caveat, I've taken a workshop in it, and toyed with the idea of using it, but it's one of those mediums that seems to take over the message of the picture, so it's hard to use, and use well, where the medium enhances the message, and not become it.

    I like Ellen Susan's portraits of soldiers... somehow the process brings to mind the whole history of photography, and the history of warfare (they recall a lot of Civil War era images in the U.S.) that I find really interesting a full of questions. And they are quite honest portraits of those soldiers heading into harm's way... for what?

    She's far more careful with her process, and though the occasional flaw may be a good thing (or not) Mann relies far too heavily on being sloppy, which is too bad... I think the work suffers for it. Still, the Proud Flesh series is quite moving, and if they were made with a bit more care, I'd probably respond even more favorably.
     
  23. patrickjames

    patrickjames Member

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    I should say too that history will likely look more kindly on her recent work than the art world does now.