Hold Still, Sally Mann
I had never previously heard of Sally Mann. I picked up the book because she is from Lexington, Va, right down the road, and the idea of a memoir with photographs sounded intriguing. Growing up on a rural farm, explorations of the southern landscape and musing on mortality, her friendship with Cy Twombly, her crazy, drug induced in-laws, all colorful casts of characters that led her to dive deeper in undestanding her parents, the unraveled threads of family, generations of her past, and photogrpahs and art to help better decribe and interpret her life as it is. Early on in adulthood she had a mental note of what she wanted for herself and family: a lie of simplicity, seclusion, ecological, soul-satisfying, sweat-of-the-brow self-sufficiency. Her art was at times very shocking (the disturbing photos of dead bodies at the ‘Body Farm’ I still can’t get out of my mind). Her controversial photos of her naked children, and others led her to be trailed as well as her family on many occassions by stalkers. Photos of her young children nude and other issues can bring with it disturbing outcomes through the years… time always does tell how much people can be emotionally damaged by their childhood. I come to find a year after this book published one of her sons committed suicide.
She took photographs of her father as he lay slowly dying (his choice) on his favorite couch from taking 30 Seconal tablets. He knew all to well the future that lay waste for him with brain cancer. Sally leaves nothing unturned. A riveting memoir of an artist.