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History, Photography, and Race in the South: From the Civil War to Now Part 1—Signs of Return: Photography as History in the US South

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.