Like much of her previous landscape work, Sally Mann's new photographs are a magnificent mess. Streaked, scratched, mottled, muddy, and full of impenetrably dark, foggy passages, they look like negatives salvaged from a flood or fire and reproduced as relics. Several are so dense they appear to be rough charcoal drawings, an effect all the more pronounced because the pictures' varnished surfaces, unprotected by glass, have a peculiar grittiness. (Mann mixed diatomaceous earth, a gardener's staple made of ground shells, with her varnish to give the work its painterly texture.) In one image, a large, indistinct mound of vegetation sits beneath a slate sky that erupts in a shower of snowy spots; grimy foam collects along the picture's upper edge instead of clouds. In others, a field of stubble and reeds is nearly obliterated by wave upon wave of dusty gray billows, a black sun explodes on a ragged horizon line, and the soft curve of a hill—as flat as a cutout—soaks in a heavy rain... More >>>