Sally Mann is an American photographer, best known for her large black-and-white photographs—at first of her young children, then later of landscapes suggesting decay and death. Mann’s fifth book, "What Remains", published in 2003, is based on the show of the same name at the Corcoran Museum in Washington, DC and is in five parts. The first section contains photographs of the remains of Eva, her greyhound, after decomposition. The second part has the photographs of dead and decomposing bodies at a federal Forensic Anthropology Facility (known as the ‘body farm’). The third part details the site on her property where an armed escaped convict was killed. The fourth part is a study of the grounds of Antietam, the site of the bloodiest single day battle in American history during the Civil War. The last part is a study of close-ups of the faces of her children. Thus, this study of mortality, decay and death ends with hope and love.
Mann has a gift for provoking strong reactions ("I like pushing buttons") and her pictures of rotting corpses certainly do that. She took them at the University of Tennessee's anthropological facility at Knoxville, aka the "body farm", where human decomposition is studied scientifically. The bodies are mostly left in an outdoor setting and lie there for months or even years. In Steven Cantor's 2006 television documentary about Mann, she is observed happily wandering from cadaver to cadaver, prodding this body part and stroking that one, unfazed by the maggots and reek of decay. (wikipedia)
"Death makes us sad, but it can also make us feel more alive," she says. "I couldn't wait to get there. The smell didn't bother me. And you should see the colours – they're really beautiful. As Wallace Stevens says, death is the mother of beauty." (the guardian)Visit her SITE for more of her work.
A body farm is a research facility where human decomposition can be studied in a variety of settings. The aim is to gain a better understanding of the decomposition process, permitting the development of techniques for extracting information (such as the timing and circumstances of death) from human remains. Body farm research is particularly important within forensic anthropology and related disciplines, and has applications in the fields of law enforcement and forensic science. Five such facilities exist in the United States, with the research facility operated by Texas State University at Freeman Ranch being the largest at seven acres.