Dancing In Mourning Across America

I’ve been slow to mention Vanessa Winship‘s ‘She Dances on Jackson‘, which was on show in Paris at the Fondation Henri-Cartier Bresson from May 15-July 28 this year. I’d half-hoped I would find time for a weekend in Paris, and would certainly have gone to see the show if I’d been there, but unfortunately it never happened.

As well as the show in Paris, there is of course a book of the work published by Mack, though it isn’t the same as the show. And so much has been written about the book that my thoughts are probably redundant now – though perhaps I’ll try to write something when I’ve more time – and perhaps we may some time see a show of this work in London. But for the moment I’ll suggest if you don’t already know all there is to know about it that you start by reading Liz Jobey in FT Magazine, which will tell you about the background to the project and explains a lot about why and when Winship visited many of the places in the book.  Then you may like to read Christer Ek’s blog post which expresses his slight disappointment with the organisation of the show, and the lack in the book of the personal material which was in the exhibition, and in particular:

what appears to be Vanessa’s diary. It is a large A3 size book that has been made with emails that she exchanged with her sister and some hand written notes. The book is enriched by all the prints that are hanged on the wall in a very small format (around 8 x 10 cm). The small prints are some kind of reading prints on a beautiful warm tone argentic paper.

Christer feels that once you have seen this:

you can only consider that this is the real entire work and you start to imagine what could have been a book including all those pieces.

I haven’t seen it, and so can hardly comment, but looking through the book and the pictures on line it seems to me that it is a fine body of work, and it is what the photographer has presented to us, and what we have to deal with. But it can’t be divorced from the personal life of the photographer, and the cruel blow of fate that as she was about to leave for America, having been awarded the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation prize of €30,000 to enable her to make it, she learnt that her father had been diagnosed with a terminal cancer from which he died three months later.

Finally, in the on-line gallery ‘The Great Leap Sideways‘ you can see 20 of the images from the book, as well as read an interesting essay: The Democracy of Universal Vulnerability: Vanessa Winship’s “she dances on Jackson”, though I’m not quite sure I follow all it has to say. There is at times a certain vagueness about it, where I would like the writer to get more involved with the specifics of the images.  Also on the page is a video ‘leaf-through’ of the book which enables you to glimpse all the images in sequence.

One Response to “Dancing In Mourning Across America”

  1. […] edition is the work of Vanessa Winship from her book ‘she dances on Jackson‘ mentioned here a couple of months back, with a thoughtful review by Deputy Editor Michael Grieve.  The book is finely produced […]

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