Deep South, Sally Mann
After your works about childhood, you moved on to other subjects. What led you to take pictures of landscapes in the South of the United States?
I wanted to explore the region’s mystery and complexity. The South has its own unique issues: Why did we behave the way we did in the Civil War? Why did the South depend so heavily on slavery? Why do we have the racial attitudes that we do? Why the sense of honor? Why the warrior spirit? Because many of the family pictures I took used Southern landscapes as the backdrop, it was a very easy shift for me to focus on photographing the South itself. I spent six years on exploring that topic. Deep South is one of my favorite bodies of work.
You said that you have never left the South to create art, and you consider yourself a Southern artist.
There is no denying that I have made most of my works in the South. In that respect, I could be regarded as a Southern artist. Southerners are preoccupied with the past, with myth, with family, with death. And, of course, we tend to be a little more romantic.
Why do you think that is?
I guess it’s because of the temperature. Also, the light in the South is so different from the North, where you have this crisp and clear light. There is no mystery in that light. Everything is revealed in the Northern light. You have to live in the South to understand the difference. In summer, the quality of the air and light are so layered, complex, and mysterious, especially in the late afternoon. I was able to catch the quality of that light in a lot of the photos.