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History, Photography, and Race in the South: From the Civil War to Now

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Katherine Henninger, associate professor, departments of English and women's and gender studies, Louisiana State University. Bringing together some 115 photographs from across four decades of the artist’s career, Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings offers both a sweeping overview of her achievement and a focused exploration of the continuing influence of the American South on her work. For a public symposium held on April 14, 2018, in conjunction with the exhibition, Katherine Henninger explores visual legacies of the southern gothic in literature and photography, and contemporary southern artistic engagement with those legacies vis-à-vis figures of childhood. The southern gothic has powerfully registered American violence around race, class, sexuality, and gender, while figures of childhood register anxiety about the South’s—really, the nation’s—innocence and guilt in relation to such violence. Henninger demonstrates how Mann’s photographs evoke and disrupt these twinned representational traditions. This program is made possible by the James D. and Kathryn K. Steele Fund for Photography.

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Shawn Michelle Smith, professor and chair, department of visual and critical studies, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Bringing together some 115 photographs from across four decades of the artist’s career, Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings offers both a sweeping overview of her achievement and a focused exploration of the continuing influence of the American South on her work. For a public symposium held on April 14, 2018, in conjunction with the exhibition, Shawn Michelle Smith examines the role of photography as a tool of self-construction for African Americans after slavery. Smith discusses the numerous photographic portraits of abolitionist Frederick Douglass as well as his early lectures on photography in the 1860s, presenting his thoughts on the medium as a novel theory of it as well as a new model of personhood. This program is made possible by the James D. and Kathryn K. Steele Fund for Photography.

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Grace Elizabeth Hale, Commonwealth Chair of American Studies and History, University of Virginia. Bringing together some 115 photographs from across four decades of the artist’s career, Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings offers both a sweeping overview of her achievement and a focused exploration of the continuing influence of the American South on her work. In her keynote address for a public symposium held in conjunction with the exhibition, Grace Elizabeth Hale explores how return—as a practice, a process, a subject, and an aesthetic—structures time and thus marks and makes history. Hale discusses how Sally Mann and other photographers working in the South employ return to render history visible: the way they photograph the same place or people or event; restage old images or return to places photographed by others; employ old photographic processes, formats, and materials; and consciously go back to former histories—to older Souths, to the lies that passed for truths, and to the relationships people constructed with these pasts.  What, Hale asks, can the work of these photographers tell us about the changing meaning of history? This program is made possible by the James D. and Kathryn K. Steele Fund for Photography.

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LeRonn P. Brooks, assistant professor, department of African and African American Studies, Lehman College. Bringing together some 115 photographs from across four decades of the artist’s career, Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings offers both a sweeping overview of her achievement and a focused exploration of the continuing influence of the American South on her work. For a public symposium held on April 14, 2018, in conjunction with the exhibition, LeRonn Brooks further explores Mann’s treatment of history. Mann’s landscape photography reimagines land as a facet of memory and narrative; Brooks examines how these themes are intertwined and relevant to this moment in our nation’s history, revealing that the past contains every part of whom we have become. This program is made possible by the James D. and Kathryn K. Steele Fund for Photography.

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Grace Elizabeth Hale, Commonwealth Chair of American Studies and History, University of Virginia. Bringing together some 115 photographs from across four decades of the artist’s career, Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings offers both a sweeping overview of her achievement and a focused exploration of the continuing influence of the American South on her work. In her keynote address for a public symposium held in conjunction with the exhibition, Grace Elizabeth Hale explores how return—as a practice, a process, a subject, and an aesthetic—structures time and thus marks and makes history. Hale discusses how Sally Mann and other photographers working in the South employ return to render history visible: the way they photograph the same place or people or event; restage old images or return to places photographed by others; employ old photographic processes, formats, and materials; and consciously go back to former histories—to older Souths, to the lies that passed for truths, and to the relationships people constructed with these pasts.  What, Hale asks, can the work of these photographers tell us about the changing meaning of history? This program is made possible by the James D. and Kathryn K. Steele Fund for Photography.

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LeRonn P. Brooks, assistant professor, department of African and African American Studies, Lehman College. Bringing together some 115 photographs from across four decades of the artist’s career, Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings offers both a sweeping overview of her achievement and a focused exploration of the continuing influence of the American South on her work. For a public symposium held on April 14, 2018, in conjunction with the exhibition, LeRonn Brooks further explores Mann’s treatment of history. Mann’s landscape photography reimagines land as a facet of memory and narrative; Brooks examines how these themes are intertwined and relevant to this moment in our nation’s history, revealing that the past contains every part of whom we have become. This program is made possible by the James D. and Kathryn K. Steele Fund for Photography.

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Maurice Wallace, associate professor, department of English, and associate director, Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies, University of Virginia. Bringing together some 115 photographs from across four decades of the artist’s career, Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings offers both a sweeping overview of her achievement and a focused exploration of the continuing influence of the American South on her work. For a public symposium held on April 14, 2018, in conjunction with the exhibition, Maurice Wallace argues for sound as a neglected consideration in photographic criticism. Every photograph, insofar as photography is defined by its soundless condition, represses the sound necessarily attending to the picture-taking event. Examining the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., in pictures, especially those that capture him in the art of speech-making or preaching, Wallace vividly demonstrates how photographs record sound’s memory, if not its audibility. Further, Wallace suggests a set of sounds, black sounds, that not only haunt some of Mann’s compelling photographs, but also belong to the very soundscape that shaped King’s own resonantly remembered voice. This program is made possible by the James D. and Kathryn K. Steele Fund for Photography.

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Maurice Wallace, associate professor, department of English, and associate director, Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies, University of Virginia. Bringing together some 115 photographs from across four decades of the artist’s career, Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings offers both a sweeping overview of her achievement and a focused exploration of the continuing influence of the American South on her work. For a public symposium held on April 14, 2018, in conjunction with the exhibition, Maurice Wallace argues for sound as a neglected consideration in photographic criticism. Every photograph, insofar as photography is defined by its soundless condition, represses the sound necessarily attending to the picture-taking event. Examining the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., in pictures, especially those that capture him in the art of speech-making or preaching, Wallace vividly demonstrates how photographs record sound’s memory, if not its audibility. Further, Wallace suggests a set of sounds, black sounds, that not only haunt some of Mann’s compelling photographs, but also belong to the very soundscape that shaped King’s own resonantly remembered voice. This program is made possible by the James D. and Kathryn K. Steele Fund for Photography.

video

Shawn Michelle Smith, professor and chair, department of visual and critical studies, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Bringing together some 115 photographs from across four decades of the artist’s career, Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings offers both a sweeping overview of her achievement and a focused exploration of the continuing influence of the American South on her work. For a public symposium held on April 14, 2018, in conjunction with the exhibition, Shawn Michelle Smith examines the role of photography as a tool of self-construction for African Americans after slavery. Smith discusses the numerous photographic portraits of abolitionist Frederick Douglass as well as his early lectures on photography in the 1860s, presenting his thoughts on the medium as a novel theory of it as well as a new model of personhood. This program is made possible by the James D. and Kathryn K. Steele Fund for Photography.

video

Katherine Henninger, associate professor, departments of English and women's and gender studies, Louisiana State University. Bringing together some 115 photographs from across four decades of the artist’s career, Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings offers both a sweeping overview of her achievement and a focused exploration of the continuing influence of the American South on her work. For a public symposium held on April 14, 2018, in conjunction with the exhibition, Katherine Henninger explores visual legacies of the southern gothic in literature and photography, and contemporary southern artistic engagement with those legacies vis-à-vis figures of childhood. The southern gothic has powerfully registered American violence around race, class, sexuality, and gender, while figures of childhood register anxiety about the South’s—really, the nation’s—innocence and guilt in relation to such violence. Henninger demonstrates how Mann’s photographs evoke and disrupt these twinned representational traditions. This program is made possible by the James D. and Kathryn K. Steele Fund for Photography.