Near Afton Villa

August 20, 2013 § Leave a comment


“Sally Mann found these plantation ruins near Afton Villa Gardens in Louisiana, close to the Mississippi border. She had been driving south on Route 61, and was in ‘that dimension of revelation and ecstasy that eludes historical time’:

The lazy shafts of Mississippi sun contributed to this sensation, illuminating vortices of cotton flies, like hundreds of slow-motion distant tornadoes alighting upon the cotton fields. . . . I found the air rich with essential protein smells, the sweet ferment of fecundity. Oncoming drivers never failed to raise a languidly welcoming hand at this stranger, not just the congenial black faces behind the wheels of the low-slung, battered old Grand Prixes and Catalinas, but also the beefy Bull Connor types in new white F-150 pickups bristling with antennas, an NRA sticker on the back window below the shotgun.

It was such a truck that came slowly across the fields to where I had discovered a burned-down ruin of a plantation house. It seemed a million miles from any paved road, so, ignoring several NO TRESPASSING signs, I had driven up to it.

‘I heard the engine cut off, the door open, and footsteps approach,’ she said:

There was a pause while I supposed a gun barrel was being raised to the part of the darkcloth where my back, given the evidence of the legs below, would be. ‘My goodness but it’s a nice day to be taking a photograph,’ the gentlest of Southern voices said.”

John Stauffer and Sally Mann,
from Southern Landscape

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