Above: ln Sally Mann’s controversial photographyher children do not srnlle tor the camera. Instead they challenge as with a provocative physicality and direct look that is at once disturbing and iasclnatlng. Below: The Family by Tom liulibers
Family features a collection of images of her three children taken on an old 10 x 8 large format camera during hot summer holidays in Virginia. It is a treat to see a selection of these beautiful prints enlarged and exhibited as part of this show. The work has already attracted much media attention and debate in the States around the sensitive issues surrounding childhood and sexuality that this work, intentionally or not, throws up. Mann, has to an extent, created a fiction around the daily lives of her children which links her to other women who have photographed within the family (Julia Margaret Cameron, Vanessa Bell, Dorothea Lange). lndeed, Sally Mann’s work here is as much about motherhood as it is concerned with the experience of childhood. The images them- selves are stunning in the way they capture the fragility and begity of the children. They are terrifying in the way that a series of injuries sustained during play are recorded and objectified through the eyes of a mother. They are also powerful in that the children do not smile for the camera, instead they challenge us with a provocative physicality and direct look that is at once disturbing and fascinating. Intimate Lives: Photographers and their Families is at the City Arts Centre, Edinburgh, 5 June—24 July.
AElilAl. PHOTOGRAPHS intrigue by rendering the iamiliar strange, oiiering a glimpse oi the world irom what photographer Patricia Macdonald calls a ‘Ood-like’ perspective. ller use oi the technique ior an exhibition exploring themes oi sameness and diiierence and the boundaries in between is, thereiore, a peculiarly apposite union oi tone and content. Salt. Sand consists at two main sequences oi images - ‘Edge oi Ocean’, showing the meeting-places oi land and sea, highlighting the two elements’ starkly deiined diiierence (the massive salience oi rocky ciiits contrasting with the murky turbulence oi currents and whirlpools), and ’Edge oi Oryness’, shots trom a journey over Spain and Morocco towards the Sahara, revealing the terrain’s gradual southward desslcation, the absence oi any clearly discernible margin. Macdonald is using landscapes with poweriul mythic and symbolic connotations, the sea being traditionally linked with the ieminine, birth, the mysterious or unknown, Atlantis-like lost lands; the sea’s edge with the mermaid or silkie; the desert with puriiication, mirages, diinns, death. Through these resonances, her photographs snag at associations - sell and other, known and unknown, conscious and unconscious, male and iemale; oppositions usually presented as sharply demarcated, but often tar more blurred than we
think. The last picture in the ’Oryness’ sequence is
oi a desert valley where an underground river runs along the bottom, detectable by a stripe oi iertiie green running through the surrounding arid brown. The exhibition as a whole ends with three dramatic images oi water vapour, sky and sea,
“ Over the edge
hinting at another opposition - body and soul, mortality and immortality.
Macdonald leaves her irarne oi reierence deliberately ambiguous, allowing scope tor individuals to make their own connections, but one concern she herseli had in mind when making the work was the issue oi sameness and diiierence in relation to the ‘new Europe’, and the questions about nationalism, ioreignness and racism it has thrown up. This theme works particularly etiectively with the desert pictures, the slow geographical shading irom one landscape into another retiecting a similar cultural overlap (between Christianity and Islam, tor example, or between southern Spain’s Moorish and European roots). ‘The idea oi this cultural blurring leads me to questions about putting very tight boundaries on places,’ Macdonald explains. ‘The idea oi Europe really appealed to me, because I thought it would mean us becoming less preoccupied with these divisions, but all that's happening is that the same walls are just getting pushed out a bit turther to the edge oi Europe. So the boundary I’m interested in now is that between Europe and what’s thought not to be Europe. I ieel that boundaries ought to be quite ﬂuid, and we ought to be crossing them all the time, relating to what’s on the other side - the idea that you can iix them neatly and rigidly is so naive.’ (Sue Wilson)
Salt. Sand by Patricia Macdonald is at Kelvlngrove Art Gallery and Museum, 4 June—15 August.
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The List 4—l7 June 199313