Candy Cigarette, 1969 by Sally Mann

Sally Mann’s famed body of work Immediate Family documents her three children, Emmett, Jessie and Virginia, in an array of scenes at their home in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. Capturing them as they sleep, interact, dress up and role play. Mrs. Mann’s photographs highlight a heightened maturity that defies their age, creating a tension between the push of childhood and the pull of adulthood. Even when the scenes themselves are innocent, there is a knowing gaze from the subject that, in my opinion, charges the image itself.

In Candy Cigarette (1989), Mrs. Mann’s eldest daughter Jessie stares defiantly at the camera, at her mother, with tousled hair and a cigarette made of bubblegum. Something which I personally find rather fascinating in that photograph is that Jessie is exhibiting a self-awareness as both a female and also as a subject of her mother’s lens. While Mrs. Mann’s work has consistently come under public scrutiny for its intimate subject matter, at the root of her project, Immediate Family is a family album filled with the stories, memories and moments that define Sally Mann as a mother and as a photographer.

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