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What Remains Hardcover – September 23, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 132 pages
  • Publisher: Bulfinch; 1st edition (September 23, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0821228439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0821228432
  • Product Dimensions: 11.8 x 1 x 13 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #433,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Mann's previous collections, Immediate Family and At Twelve, recorded the bodies of children with a frank, slightly detached sensuality at a time when public hysteria around issues of child sexuality was sharply on the rise. The fact that many of the images were of her own children left Mann particularly vulnerable to charges of exploitation. But though controversial, what deflected such accusations was the serene flawlessness of Mann's pictorialist photographic technique, which somehow contained her very real provocation without necessarily resolving it. An even deeper sense of subtle disturbance pervades the four suites of photographs that make up this latest collection, whose subjects are mortality and death. In the two most graphic and difficult sequences, the remains of a beloved family dog and the corpses at a forensic lab are given equal emotional weight, equally luxuriant and pitiless memorialization. The difficult and time-consuming glass-plate process Mann employs, which results in an often dark, stressed and uneven surface, mirrors both the decay of the subjects and the movement of time that has claimed them. In another set, the almost invisible traces left by the death of a fugitive on Mann's property are recorded in washed-out images that convey with numb bleariness violence's psychic consequences. But in the book's most successful sequence-depicting the Civil War battlefield of Antietam-there are no literal traces of the dead at all, only an overwhelming psychic weight, which is reflected in intensely dark surfaces pocked with fissures and holes that at times resemble fields of stars laid over the barely visible hills, trees and fields. And if the last sequence, a series of extreme close-up portraits of Mann's (now grown) children, is less powerful by comparison, it provides the elegiac and loving coda to a book whose richness of presentation and sober subject matter work off of each other in varied and unexpected ways.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

" Excellent, if sobering, collection . . . . Shot on glass plates instead of negatives, these photo have an eerie beauty." -- Business Week

" Shocking and beautiful " -- American Photo

"Compelling and disconcerting." -- Houston Chronicle

"Rich, wrenching meditation on death and life. . ." -- Photograph magazine

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
WHAT REMAINS is an apt title to this extraordinary photographic portfolio by the sensitive, ever inquisitive, gentle spirit of Sally Mann. Though often criticized for her 'audacity' of material she elects to photograph, Mann is never less than creative and challenging.

This well designed book is divided into sections that explore life and especially death in its many guises - accidental, violent, natural - and the remains of the deed, matter with which we the living must deal. There is the death of a family greyhound shown with grief and simplicity, the violent death of a criminal killed on Mann's property and the gore of that event and aftermath, a series of views of dead bodies in a morgue, and dark landscape survey of Antietam (a battlefield fro the Civil War) that is haunting and all too reminiscent of ongoing battlefields we still create, and finally some views of her own children's faces.

The camera techniques include ambrotypes and modes of developing that are both difficult and rewarding. One is left with the impact of the fine line between life and death and that vacuum that exists when one becomes the other. Some may find this particular portfolio difficult to see, but perhaps those people will gain the most from Sally Mann's meditations on life and death. Grady Harp, January 2004
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Southern Bard on October 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The first time I viewed this book, standing over it for nearly an hour, I was left socked, so shaken that I had to go to my room and turn off all the lights, and just lie in my bed and rest myself.
What Mann has created is not definable, and doubtless each viewing experience will be different for each individual. She does not seem to be creating an agenda book as much as an human experience. As I moved through I kept on thinking about, or rather questioning myself. What is it to look at a dead body? Is it a sign of disrespect for the dead? Or is it a sign of reverence? After all, it is the easy thing to turn away from the rotting flesh of our family, but that does not mean that it is the respectful thing, right?
One would think that Mann, already an artist at the top of her profession, might be tempted to rest on her laurels. However, this new work proves that she has no intention of doing so. She bravely continues to take risks, as well as dive further into her subject matter, and what remains is one of the world's greatest artists functioning at the peak of her creative powers.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I was not very familiar with the work of Sally Mann but was so captivated by the cover image on this book that I had to buy it. I was thrilled to see that the interior images are even more compelling. This look into mortality evokes different feelings every time I pick it up. The quality of the images seem far superior to most photography books out there; it's as though the book is filled with actual photographic prints. I highly recommend this book, it would be a unique and meaningful gift.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Death has long been a subject for artists. Mann's depth and vision elevate even the photos of decomposing bodies several levels above the merely grotesque. Yes, the photos are "difficult". The techniques employed produce dark or washed out and unevenly exposed images. But this adds to the overall mood of the book. And the subject matter is not "pretty". The final section of tightly cropped family photographs sums up "what remains". This is an outstanding project from one of the finest practitioners today of the photographer's art.
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Thank you to Sally Mann for her frank discussion & photographs on death. I have long felt that American's are spending millions of dollars in the vain, dillusional and fear-driven attempt to ELIMINATE aging and death. It is frustrating & depressing to see so much money wasted this way. It also seems to have created an obsession with safety at any cost. I appreciate Sally Mann's beautifully done work on this "taboo" subject.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lady.of.the.Woods on December 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I don't even remember how I discovered this book, but I somehow came to have it in my possession. How did I recieve it again? How would one even give this book? It would surely be a strange, if not macabre gift...perhaps only for a devoted Sally Mann fan or during an explorative photographic mission...or as a lovely token from you local village shaman...It's journey to me is unknown, but its presence with me is very much memorable. I remember passing it around to my close relatives, letting them hold it and make painful contortions with their mouths, and I remember the infrequent stumble-upon-moment of browsing at my bookshelf that I would become totally entranced within it, eyes wide, eyes like a giant liquid bubble...what is the healthy way to own this book? It is much too disturbing upon a coffee table (unless that is you are trying to trigger your guests into producing a spasmic array of disgust, pitty, gloom, anger, and haunting whistfulness?) This book mines the human unconscience; it is a sacred text of wordless images; tuck it deep within your library; cherish it privately.
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