John Mann, "Untitled, (Son of Jane Hamilton)", 2002, platinum/palladium print with ink

John Mann, “Untitled, (Son of Jane Hamilton)”, 2002, platinum/palladium print with ink

John Mann

The Silent Elegy

Searching through photographs in antique stores, I pay particular attention to those where handwritten information accompanies the image. Do I believe this is the handwriting from the person pictured or even the 19th century cameraman? While I may never know who wrote the text, the visual image is inevitably linked with the personality of a handwritten note.

A number of years ago my father was given several handwritten letters that documented the names and dates of the deaths of our ancestors. But rather than attaching information regarding the lives of these lost souls, these notes only gave the explicit details of their deaths. Names, linked with a means of death, now mark my interpretation of these lost souls. My understanding of my own history is therefore not a recollection of the life achievements or personal character of my ancestors, but relies on names inextricably tied to death.

This work seeks to understand the silence of these tainted memories, and examine the trace of those lives that are lost to memory.

John Mann (Tallahassee, FL) uses historical and digital photographic processes, in combination with drawn marks, to explore the space between the photograph and the actual experience. His work is specifically interested in how installation and juxtaposition transform disparate images into new narratives. He received his BFA in photography from Arizona State University in 1995 and his MFA from the University of New Mexico 2002. He currently lives in Tallahassee, Florida where he is an Assistant Professor of Art at Florida State University.