A documentary I would love to shed some light on is the profoundly beautiful 'What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally Mann'. It is a tender, insightful film into an incredible photographer with an enthralling, poetic eye. Last year I saw her work at the Photographers Gallery, in London, and was mesmerized. The collection included 'Immediate Family' (1984 – 94), a series, shot over ten years, of her children (which caused controversy amongst conservative Americans). 'Deep South' (1996 – 98), which consisted of a collection of ghost-like, haunting images shot at different battlefields in the American Civil War. The exhibition finished with 'What Remains' (2000-04), a series of decomposing bodies, at a research centre, in Tennesse. But these pictures are not there to shock, that is evident in the huge prints. What instead happens is that we, the audience, is confronted with the reality of death, of what happens to our physical bodies when we pass away, dissolving back into the land in which we lived in.
Throughout her work is the recurrent theme of life and death, where she has an unflinching eye, and a huge amount of courage in focusing her life's work on this. Uncomfortable to some, though utterly essential, I believe, as it makes me think of what Henry Miller wrote in his book 'The Wisdom of the Heart':
"Life has to be given meaning because of the obvious fact that it has no meaning. Something has to be created, as a healing and goading intention, between life and death, because the conclusion that life points to is death and to that conclusive fact man instinctively and persistently shuts his eyes. The sense of mystery, which is at the bottom of all art, is the amalgam of all the nameless terrors which the cruel reality of death inspires. Death then has to be defeated - or disguised, or transmogrified. But in an attempt to defeat death man has been inevitably obliged to defeat life, for the two are inextricably related. Life moves onto death, and to deny one is to deny the other."