Elliot Erwitt

Erwitts photography is similar in certain aspects to that of Sally Mann, he incorporates children and also uses metaphors that link the them to their social identites. Dance school(1977), shows 3 pairs of children, a boy and girl per pair, dresses very well in attire that shows their social class. Thier dressed as mini adults learning to do a form of ball room dancing that you will associate with upper class society. All 6 children have whether it be the smallest or largest amount of white on their persons emphasizes the purity in the youth. This is highly juxaposed to Manns work and questions and querys that it raises. Manns kids arn’t dressed but arguably show a sense of string confidence, pride and power in their stances and stares. And whilst Erwitts are fully dressed even passed their age attire, they all look to a particular area for guidance and seem unsure of what they are doing. Both represent children in different light, but goes back to the ideas of identity and how these young children havent quite yet found who they are. Particularly amongst society and are having to be taught. Erwitt doesn’t present children as exposed as mann does in her photograpghy, but definately depicts children in a way that some may find disturbing and slightly unerving.

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. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sally_Mann-Accessed november 10th

. http://www.artnet.com/artist/11072/sally-mann.html-Accessed november 12th

. http://www.kochgallery.com/artists/contemporary/Mann/index.html-Accessed november 22nd

. http://www.gagosian.com/artists/sally-mann/-Accessed 29th november

. http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/gaze/gaze06.html-Accessed 27th november

. http://www.missingkids.com/missingkids/servlet/PageServlet?LanguageCountry=en_US&PageId=1476-Accessed 29th november

. http://www.rleggat.com/photohistory/-Accessed 30th november

. http://www.lexingtonvirginia.com/lodging.htm-Accessed 22nd november

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marx’s_theory_of_alienation- accesed 17th june


Immediate Family. Aperture, New York, 1992

Deep South. Bullfinch Press, New York, 2005

mmediate Family. Aperture, New York, 1992

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research findings

photographer sally mann a creative but controversial photographer from lexington,virginia best known for her large black-and-white photographs, first of her young children, then of landscapes suggesting decay and death Her works are included in the permanent collections of the metropolitan museum of art and several others. Time magazine named Mann “America’s Best Photographer” in 2001. Photos she took have appeared on the cover of the new york times magazine twice: first, a picture of her three children for the September 27, 1992 issue with a feature article on her “disturbing work,”In the arly stages of my work i asked some basic question in which i could work from

. What is sally Mann’s background

. What was happening in the 1980s

. What are her inspirations

These question were vital in order for me gain the foundation of sally mann and build a picture of where she came from ,and put together a idea of where her influences came from. From these first lines of enquiry i was then able direct my research more carefully,although because of several things i was not able to elaborate as much as i wanted to. Through out my research i wanted to try to piece together her influence and why she took such pictures considering ow controversial they are.

From sally Mann’s background i noticed her up bringing and life to this date was lived in a very rural setting which played a big part in her creativity and her work in terms of subject matter. After looking into her work i began to look into children in photos and how they are usually represented and related it to sallys work and found no similarities. she highlighted the darker side of life and choose to show traits children which they no never associated with such as loneliness,fear,power and a few others. while investigating her work i also realized her work is mainly based around family which then brought the next line of investigation  “family photography” I came across a picture of 3 children in a grass field looking at a bonfire with no parents which had no resemblance to family photography.I did plan to research into the effects on child neglect but ran out of times.

ultimately sally was a great photographer how was criticized for her work although the pictures where very good the subject mater what the point of criticism

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Black an white photography

All photography was originally monochrome, or black-and-white. Even after color film was readily available, black-and-white photography continued to dominate for decades, due to its lower cost and its “classic” photographic look. Black-and-white remains a niche market for photographers who use the medium for artistic purposes. This can take the form of black-and-white film or digital conversion to grayscale, with optional image manipulation to enhance the results. For amateur use, certain companies such as Kodak manufactured black-and-white disposable cameras until 2009. Also. Black and white photography is sometimes referred to as monochrome; it describes paintings, drawings, design, or photographs in one color or shades of one color. A large proportion of mann’s work is done in black and white i feel she has done this to capture the emotion in her pictures.

manns work is similar in it structure and subject matter as toni frissell

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Invasion of Panama

The invasion of Panama(southern most country of central America were residents speak Spanish and are controlled by a constitutional democracy) occured 30th December 1989 to 12th January 1990, whereby over 27,000 U.S. troops invaded the small Central American country of Panama. The world’s most powerful military overwhelmed the Panama Defense Force (PDF) and its 3,000 soldiers. AH-64 Apache helicopter raked the country, both military bases and working class communities. After the PDF crumbled, fighting by irregular Panamanian militia lasted a few days. It was the americans, in a meeting at the pentagon that named the operation “Just cause”, to make people percieve that what they were to was legit and by all means a good cause, to save American civillians. The then prseident George W Bush senior, made it known that he was removing an evil dictator, speaking of Manuel Noriega. Who was at the time the leader of panama, but causing brutality and fear to the panamanians, hes portrayal on television waving a machete is what provoked the US troops invasion. The Panamanians were aware that the Americans were not looking out for them, but were more interested in fact that General Noriega was a military office that was handpicked and trained by the US, he was a paid CIA operative in 1967, and attended the school of assasins before being asked to run Panama. The 35, 000 the Bush sent to panama were a part of he’s aims to provoke something in Panama and as soon as 1 militant died, he declared it unsafe for the 35, 000 still be out there. Bush was aware what an animal he had placed to rule a country and was aware he loyaltys could be bought even if it meant supressing the people of panama. The real reason for the brutality and american involvement into panama was because of the Panama Canal, crucial to the US operations for ensuring it capatalist penetration of latin America anmd Asia and its ability to shift its military forces around the world.

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There are different forms of identity, from cultural to social, self to racial. Society see indentification as a construction of common origin or shared characteristics with another person or group. Who may have the same history or ancestry hold in common or even simply may behave or socialise in the similar ways, belonging to a communities of practice in thier homes, school or work. In any instance learning transforms who we are and what we can do, it is an experience of identity. And for this reason a young child growing up and being educated will only know of thier identity in every aspects if they are taught. Emmet Jessie Virginia, is a great depiction of this, all three kids are not fully clothed and are stood side by side in an outdoor area. This shows an element of the kids being uneducated in regards to how they should appear to society. The two young girls in particular have their torsos on show, which ideally isn’t suitable for them but more so for the young boy. We assume, the photographer Sally Mann has placed him as the one they will look up too, since there are no obivous adults around for them to mirror. Because of this they mirror the young boys posture, this is blatant by their stance which isnt at all feminine but more masculine, basing their identities on those of a male character. The black and white picture, with the kids stern and strong facial expressions, scruffy and dirty appearances and obscured background imply the kids lifes are not what ideally kids lifes should be like, no excitment, joy, colour etc. The fact their outdoors in the nude, and showing power in their stance and gazes into the camera, enforces how they look pass the lack of attire. Which is easily picked up as Mann evoking the wrong message especially at the tender ages they are.

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mann thought’s

The short yet elegant video above I have found on YouTube, an extract from the documentary ‘What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally Mann‘ explains why Mann takes the pictures that she does. In short she hopes that up and coming artists take the same look at photography that she does. She believes that if you take a picture that does not have a personal relationship with the photographer then it loses meaning. Mann claimes that, because all of her subjects mean something to her she is able to take the high quality pictures that she does.

“The things that are close to you are things you can photograph the best. Unless you photograph what you love your not going to make good art.” – Mann

“It’s always been my philosophy to make art out of the everyday and ordinary.” – Mann

That being said, the everyday and ordinary is what you know the best and possibly love. These two quotes resonate strongly with me as I believe Mann has said it exactly right and there is no better way of putting it. It is quite evident whenever I look at one of her pictures how much love and care has gone into constructing the picture (in some cases) or just taking a ‘snap shot‘ of what she loves especially in the,  Immediate Family, series and, Deep South.

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over the boundaries

Sally Mann’s work is very controversial, not just her series Immediate Family but also her other works like What Remains and Deep South. Many people question the ethics of taking pictures of naked children and calling it Art. ‘The word pornography is derived from a Greek term meaning ‘the writings of harlots or prostitutes.’ Closely related, and in legal terms virtually identical, is obscenity, which is ‘behavior or material that is immoral and designed to produce lust. Under the United States law child pornography is defined as “the visual depiction of minor children under the age of 18 engaging in sex acts such as sexual intercourse, masturbation or oral sex. The definition also covers photographs or depictions of children’s genitalia.” (Free Advice: Online). In my opinion Mann’s work is moving at the very edge of this definition. One can clearly see by looking at any of her pictures in the series that Mann did not take them to expose her children in a sexually perverse way but to capture Art using the body, posture, expression and location.

To understand why some of the pictures in Mann’s series feature her children posing nude, and why she has allowed the public to view the pictures, we must look at her childhood and frame of mind. We are told by her Mother, Elizabeth Munger, in the DVD, ‘What remains: the life and works of Sally Mann’ [2] that she refused to wear cloths for the first two years of her life. In the DVD Mann also states that she grew up within a nonconformist family that did not go to church or were religious in any way and were not members of a country club. In addition to this she was the youngest of three children.

from the above facts that she grew up in a very liberal, non conformist family that had their own definitions of what is acceptable and what is not. Sally Mann’s childhood was spent in an environment that was without many of the boundaries of her contemporary society. Besides this, a lot of people assume that their parents in contras to their other children often spoil last-born children. Thus Mann may have not been disciplined as much as her siblings. These two factors may have made her have an open mind when taken pictures of her children modeling in the nude.

Mann seems to have been influenced by her father who enjoyed taking pictures and who was quite willing to shoot images of his daughter in the nude. She uses an old 8×10 view camera given to her by her father to take all of her pictures.

I conclude it to be undeniable that Mann’s pictures of her nude children produces lust in pedophiles. For them such images become obscene. This could potentially put the lives of many vulnerable children at a serious, longterm risk. Since Sally Mann’s pictures under consideration can be read as being pornographic – although being it only by a smal, but seemingly growing minority of pedophiles – she should not have released them to the public. It can even be argued that by her doing so, she becomes legally involved in the activities of pedophiles. The only thing that possibly stops her from being persecuted is the difficulty to obtain evidence of her connections with the pedophiles. At any rate, the more one thinks about these sorrry matters, the less one can support Sally Mann’s potential contribution to them. However one can still appreacite the artistic nature of her pictures when viewed in the right context and space.

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1989 (Year of photo)

The picture, ‘Emmett, Jessie, and Virginia’ was taken by Sally Mann in 1989. I wanted to find out if there was anything that happened within that year that could have inspired the photographer to take the image. 1989 was indeed a very eventful year. The Berlin wall came down which foreshadowed the end of the cold war. The Tiananmen Square protests took place and George H. W. Bush was elected president of the United States of America

The Tiananmen Square protests seem to be one of the most relevant events when relating back to Mann’s inspiration. The photo that was taken on the 5th of June 1989 by Jeff Widener depicts an unknown man standing in the path of four tanks. It was all over the media at that time. The picture represents the people’s rebellion to the Chinese dictatorship. Mann could have been inspired by this moving photograph to make a bold statement in her own image. Inadvertently it sparked a wide split in the artistic and non-artistic community.

George H. W. Bush was elected President of the United States of America. He was a conservative republican. The political party is considered to be center right-wing. The series Immediate Family seems to take a very politically liberal approach to the subjects within the works. When she published the pictures of her children she was exposing them to the wider world and not just family or friends. This means that they were open for public debate and critic. “Mann’s images of naked children and dead bodies have caused discomfort on previous occasions, for instance among extreme conservative Christians in the United States.” This quote is taken from Helsingin Sanomat referenced below. From what I have gathered Mann has a very close relationship with her family and they don’t have a problem with modeling naked. However, in doing that shoot she inadvertently opposes the values represented by the Republican leadership.

The idea of rebellion is seen throughout her works and not just in Immediate Family but also What Remains and Deep South. However i have gathered form a television programme entitled Art 21: Art in the Twenty-First Century in the episode entitled Place. Sally Mann says that she did not intentionally take picture of her kids to produce a controversal meaning, but she took them because they were their. This sheds new light onto the meaning of the pictures however other people could still draw a different meaning from the photographs relating to the year they were taken.

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alienated family

when i talk about alienation i mean in relation to marx theory that the separation of things that naturally belong together, or to put antagonism between things that are properly in harmony. I am mainly referring to the social alienation which is the most pronounced in marx theory of alienation .

In relation to the photographer and the chosen image it is represented in the attire and location of the photo.  we can firstly  acknowledge a sense that the children have been directed in some way this way mainly the younger females, I have come to this conclusion simply because of there pose and mannerism within the photo. Instantly upon viewing this image you see the separation from the outside world, my research has found that the location they live in has probably been  a big influence to this also ideas around there upbringing may spring to mind. For instance in this photograph jessie  and virginia where technically old enough to be starting puberty meaning morally this there appearance is very wrong. This highlights the family as different from the typical ‘ordinary’ family. Sally may have considered these factors when taking the photo which then brings several other questions to mind such as

Why would sally mann want her children/family to be alienated?

In terms of the photograph on a analytical level when looking at the effects and use of depth-of-field and framing; these techniques can be seen as used in such a way as to further emphasise a feeling of ‘alienation.’ In making the family the focus of the shot, their surroundings are blurred. Its presented in a way so the outside world has no effect or influence on there lives and sally mann (the mother) has given them the freedom to do as they please.

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