southern photo-speak

24Jan08

In the introduction to Deep South, Sally Mann writes: The repertoire of the Southern artist has long included place, the past, family, death, and dosages of romance that would be fatal to most contemporary artists. But the stage on which these are played out is always the Southern landscape, terrible in its beauty, in its indifference.

Yesterday was one of those days when I’m reminded why I love being a photo educator.  The Photography: Southeast show opened at school (in the McMaster Gallery). Two of the exhibition’s photographers, Nancy Floyd and my dear friend Sam Wang, traveled to Columbia to participate in a panel discussion on Southern photography.  

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Nancy Floyd, From: “She’s Got a Gun”

Following the reception Nancy and I met some of the photo students at my house, and Nancy was kind enough to sit down with each of them to discuss their work.  It was such a genuine exchange- she spent a generous amount of time looking at their work and offering feedback and encouragement, and it was clear that she enjoyed it.  

As for the panel, I’d been looking forward to the discussion for months.  As the James Lipton of the group, I posed a series of questions about Southern photography, and I was interested to hear from Nancy and Sam, both non-Southern Southern photographers (relocated to the South, but not raised here).  There was some debate over whether there still remains a regionally specific aesthetic.  I’m not sure these labels really matter, but I am interested in the issue of perspective.  Is there a difference in the way we view “Southern photography” in the South vs. outside of the South? Is there a difference between the self-image created by photographers who have grown up in the South, and the “outsider” image created by non-Southern photographers who have relocated to the South?  

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2 Responses to “southern photo-speak”

  1. 1 edye

    I really regret not being able to hear the panel discussion, especially since my current project is about my interpretation of being southern! The chili was delicious by the way! Thanks for the evening, it was wonderful.

  2. All I can say is that Kathleen is a perfect host and the undergraduate students at USC are quite wonderful and introspective when talking about their work. It was a great afternoon and evening. I was honored to be in the exhibition with so many talented photographers.


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