Lying-in

Photographer Katie Eleanor

 

Lying-in

 

Herein lies  the self-taught art, Comfort in Confinement: a full body cast, snug fit of emotional and physical posturing, not for the weak of brittle bread and bones or for the claustrophobic faint of heart. Swaddled in perplex, plaster of Paris’ burlap blanket maintains an incessant itch, a familiar womb-like warmth of pleasant-unpleasant darkness. Sleep floats to the scent of a salty melody, sodden soil’s sweetness is reminiscent of musk’s six feet under while embracing a solace that is predictable and dependable. Within this box numbing is welcome; pressure is measured by pounds per square inch and the decaying pockmarked pinpricks of awakenings hold hands in silence, joining in the good vibrations of deep contemplation: counting backwards from infinity — by primes. 

 

“…we can only hope that the evocative Welsh word hiraeth will be preserved. It means ‘distant pain’, and I know all about it…But, and this is important, it always refers to a near-umbilical attachment to a place, not just free-floating nostalgia or a droopy houndlike wistfulness of the longing we associate with human love. No, this is a word about the pain of loving a place.”
— Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs

 

“What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally Mann”

 

Copyright © 2018 Mia Pharaoh. All rights reserved.

 

26 thoughts on “Lying-in

  1. What an interesting post, Mia. I am not familiar with Sally Mann, but I like her from that short clip. Brings back memories when I worked with and 8X10 view camera. Using a view camera is a different way of seeing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like this PM. What a brave lady, Sally Mann. I understand where she’s coming from. She’s braver and more honest than most of us. I’m thinking this post the best complete post I’ve read for ages. I’ve got a song called What Remains ~ JGC

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    1. JGC, thank you, you’ve nailed this rather bleak post. What does remain? For me 2020 has been the year of the enforceable mandates, in turn forcing us to stew in our own self-impose isolation or suffer the ramifications of not doing so. (The mayor “Said City” is turning off utilities for those that don’t comply with “mandatory-mandates”.) Mann is indeed, “braver and more honest than most of us”. I too caved, this was written several years ago with the intent of using one of Mann’s “Body Farm” photos. Realizing that the WP community would find the image (and the words also) offensive I never posted it. Now here we are in the land of the not-living living, time to share. I revisited your song, “What Remains” written as a prefect foreshadowing of the way we’re living now. Please enjoy the rest of your Saturday. ~ PM

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This is what I think, PM. I don’t always get it right when I think. OK, Sally Mann’s art is right on the edge. A lot of people would see it as a sin against whoever their god is. If Sally was male she/he would maybe get banged up in prison as a weirdo. In her case, girl power, at work. A good thing. But like all art, if you care about art, then we look deeper and that’s where she scores. She’s just a skillful lady artist doing the best she can in the face of take no prisoner puritans – is ‘puritans’ the right word?.
        2020 is, like you say it is. Common-sense turned into bossy style law. These last few days, now on 4th tier lockdown because of the morphing of corona virous into something much more catchable that’s all over Kent, I’ve, as I have throughout, stay indoors unless it’s a decent day then I walk miles in countryside, mainly alone. But I do it because common-sense tells me too. I even avoid meeting up with me dad. He’s getting ancient plus he’s ill and I’d hate it if I got the virus and killed him. I think it’s a shame that everywhere on the planet there are too many idiots and alpha creatures who think only of their selves.
        Sorry this is a bit long, PM. Your reply had made me think. Enjoy your day ~ JGC

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you, JGC, for your wonderful reply. I agree with you, it would be viewed differently, challenging thought. A favorite Mann quote:

          “I like to make people a little uncomfortable. It encourages them to examine who they are and why they think the way they do.”
          ― Sally Mann

          I’ve been hearing and reading about what’s up in Kent, my condolences. I believe the rest of the world is right behind the Kent Experience/Experiment. It’s good to keep moving, I find walking a source of renewal and of course deep and odd thoughts. I’m sad to read about your dad, please wish him well. This entire mess has created a global crisis of lonely hearts (I don’t mean in a romantic sense), more so, as beating hearts missing live and in person human-in-kind interaction. Wishing you a good evening. ~ PM

          Liked by 1 person

          1. That is some quote, PM. Sally Mann’s take on the subject is so true. “I like to make people a little uncomfortable. It encourages them to examine who they are and why they think the way they do.” Artists and people who love art – all kinds of art – really do dig deeper whereas the masses can’t see more than just the guilty stereotype – I think. I was thinking of the Randy Newman song when he wrote, ‘They don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground.’ That about covers it.
            Virus wise, we’re in a big mess. This new version apparently enjoys flying around more than the original did/does. You can catch it from someone who coughed from a good distant away. It’s a good thing that I don’t mind hiding away indoors. It’s a way of life when creativity is on my side. I wish it was on my side now. I’m missing the days when I forgot to eat because my mind was fixed on creating stuff.
            Have a great day. I hope this morphed version doesn’t head your way ~ JGC

            Liked by 1 person

          2. JGC, I have a lot of favorite artists and they all seem to have the common thread of being able to push my mind out there. I feel bad for those unable to move out of their own way because they miss out on the revelations of beauty that those with soft eyes are able to see. It reminds me of the idea; perfection is captured in the imperfect. Yes, eating has become a side effect of boredom. Thank you for the kind wishes. Please have a good evening. ~ PM

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          3. PM, I checked online the phrase, ‘Perfection is ?’ and all they have is mainly swoony rubbish. I’ll take your ‘perfection is captured in the imperfect’ any day. That’s sort of what’s going on here in Dover today. There is perfection in a farce. 3,000+ lorries from all over the EU, parked up yet desperate drivers trying to get back home, and the harbour has only now got the ships in to take them across the Channel. The perfect pile up. I’ve not been out to check what’s exactly going on because it’s pouring with rain, but I’m told it’s history in the making. I liked to take photographs if/when the rain eases off a bit. Most drivers have been stuck here for 48 hours+. No loos; no food; no where to wash etc. etc. The UK Government sent people around and handed the drivers one granola biscuit each – just the once. Not even a cup of water. Up in my attic studio the best part of a mile away I can hear a chorus of pointless sirens and angry horns. It’s pretty good sound art thinking about it, especially so as the usually busy road outside of here is totally empty. Anyhow, let’s hope the corona variation doesn’t cross the Atlantic – the US, Canada doesn’t need it at all. Stats here are going through the roof. Have a good day ~ JGC

            Liked by 1 person

          4. JGC, I checked out the lorry situation as of my Wednesday evening 4000+ lorries at a standstill. France will not let them into the country. Horrible, the drivers are angry, tired, hungry and now having to take CV19 tests and still unable to move. It’s horrible, unbelievable and so surreal. More than sad, tempers are flying and people are feeling the long-arm grip of suppression, who knows what could light someone up, it’s a very unstable environment. I do believe we will soon be seeing eruptions on a global level by the people. That would make some good sound art, ‘sirens and angry horns’. Let’s hope the bug is unable to make the crossing, yet I’ve already hear chatter of the ‘variation virus’. Have a good Thursday. ~ PM

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          5. It’s a bad scene out there for sure. I heard the straw that broke the camels back was when the traffic wardens on Dover gave a load of the parked up lorries parking tickets. That’s so sick/petty. The lorries are stuck where they are, they can’t move. That’s a cheap shot I think, PM. I’m planning taking a look at what’s going and take pics today, only from a distance though. Enjoy today ~ JGC

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          6. JGC, that’s really messed up. In a couple of interviews the drivers said they don’t want to be there either. All the lorries are sandwiched in together, none of them can move. What sort of world is this becoming? Maybe it’s been this way it’s just now we can see it clearly. Wishing you a warm and safe Christmas day. ~ PM

            Liked by 1 person

          7. It’s one big mess, PM. The lorry drivers are being treated like they’re second class humans and not many people seem to care. At times like this I wonder what life is all about. Anyhow, enjoy your day ~ JGC

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  3. Predictable and dependable, pleasant-unpleasant…So relatable, although I’m not into photography.
    You got me intrigued, so I had to peek in her world to see more. So many children, so many bodies that make you both smile and frown. Thanks for sharing, Mia. I always love learning new things.

    My fav photographs are two guys whose exhibitions I had a chance to see in Munich. One is Seph Lawless, famous for photos of abandoned places /urban decay and the other Sebastião Salgado who’s been documenting nature in a very unique way, as well as hellish ‘landscapes’ of gold mines and the suffering of the homeless and downtrodden. Make sure you check them out, unless you heard of them already. By that I don’t mean their photos only but life paths too, particularly Sebastião’s who 20 years ago started a project to plant two million trees with the help of his wife. And now, 20 years later the seeds have grown into a lush forest somewhere in Brazil. Impressive! Imagine a world where everyone would do things for the common good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Bojana. I think 2020 has in many aspects been a year for the living dead; we all know that so I won’t linger on it. I hear the phrase, “you’re naïve” quite often. I want to believe individuals will do the right thing for the most part. Sadly, I’ve been disappointed and I take it more personally than I should. I agree, and I do try to imagine that beautiful world.

      Oh yes, I’ve been a fan of Sally Mann for many years. Her work has come under fire and some find it controversial, in fact many have been critical of her use of her children and some mention of “a crime”. I don’t agree, shame some people feel they need to police everything under the guise of being an armchair Good Samaritan, it’s starting to taste a lot like the banned book list. Anyway, Mann took a series of photos, “Body Farm” at the University of Tennessee that inspired this bit of macabre writing some time ago. (A body farm is a research facility where decomposition can be studied in a variety of settings.) I felt it would be disturbing or offensive for many WP readers/viewers to use one of her photos (not everyone has eyes that see), so. . . you know how that goes.

      Thank you for the recommendations! I love the fact that Seph Lawless uses a pseudonym, quite appropriate name choice. He’s captured the sins of humanity and/or rather the ramifications due to sins of gluttony, yet there’s also a bittersweet and tender implication found in his work. Where have all the people gone? The blight is horrific, so much desolation and devastation. Sebastião Salgado’s work is spellbinding; the use of black and white is spectacular. I was able to find a short video on the Reforestation Project, rather a miracle in a little less than twenty years, “The mammoth project has planted saplings of more than 290 species of trees, and seen the return of many species of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and insects.” Thank goodness!

      Thank you again!

      Like

      1. The kind of art I love most, whether books or photography or movies, can be perceived as pretty disturbing by some. But then I don’t know how anyone can be offended by such content when all it tries to do is open our eyes. Unless, of course, you prefer staying in the dark.
        (Thank YOU.)

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  4. Lots to chew on there Mia! I worked in a prison for a while, there were a lot of sex offenders in there, one guy, (total crackpot) was obsessed with prime numbers – how curious is the human mind! Well it was a math class, not that I was a very good teacher, but I couldn’t see how it could do him any harm.

    I do admire Sally Mann, her work looks fantastical ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ogden! Math teacher, that’s very cool. I love math and prime numbers! The mind is a fascinating machine, how it works from individual to individual is a big mystery from sure. So glad you like Sally Mann, fantastic photography. Thank you, wishing you a good week ahead! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Some of the inmates had better maths than me! I should have been teaching art, I never passed a maths exam in my life! LOL They just didn’t want another art teacher, so I had to learn math as I went along. Its a great subject tho I agree, quite abstract!

        You can’t miss the talent and beauty of a photographer like Sally Mann – you have a good week too Mia! ❤ 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Mia, hopefully you are doing well and your post is certainly all Sally, haunting, dark, and full of anxiety, just like one of her photos. After this year, it’s time to go back an read her book again. I wonder how she views the social changes that are around, “emotional and physical posturing” or “good vibrations of deep contemplation?” Thanks for the post, awesome! -Chris

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Chris, all’s well, thank you. I was inspired by Mann’s “Body Farm” series. I wondered what it might be like being part of the process of decomposition, and if there was a consciousness connected to the process. Thanks again, wishing you and yours a good holiday season. ~ Mia

      Liked by 1 person

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