XXY Presents: John Mann
XXY Presents: John Mann
The never-ending journeys of the travelling mind.
John Mann surely isn’t a photojournalist, but his work is so profusely infused with references to journeys, routes and far-off places that travelling, or better, the artist’s reflections on the act of travelling, is undeniably the focal point of his photographic production. In fact, many of Mann’s photographs can simply be considered as a visual and conceptual projection of places he never visited and roads he never travelled with his body, but that he widely explored with his mind.
At a first, superficial glance the artist’s most famous photographic series, Folded in Place, appears like one of his less abstract works, but it is in fact the product of an extensive reflection on how we use sculpture, paintings and photography to translate the world around us. The series includes parts of geographic maps and other cartographic objects reworked by the artist to create 3D shapes which, in turn, have been photographed and translated to the final images. In this way Mann doesn’t deprive the maps of their original meaning, as it is still possible to understand which places they refer to but, at the same time, he represents how unreliable is our standardised visual representation of the physical world.
In other series Mann explores the act of travelling from unusual and surprising perspectives. In The Cut Path he follows telephone lines along the country, using them as a sort of guiding path towards an unknown destination, photographing the landscapes he encounters on his way. The result is a collection of black and white images in which telephone poles get lost in the middle of woods and fields almost as much as the author himself becomes lost during the unmapped journey. In Thinner Air, a 48 page photographic book, Mann documents the construction of a model plane, progressively changing the perspective of observation from outside the plane to inside it, while the plane itself changes, becoming more real, picture after picture.
Mann, who is currently teaching at Florida State University, is also part of the artist network Piece of Cake (POC), which reunites some of the most interesting contemporary photographers from Europe and North America. Through the group, founded in 2002 by Charles Freger, members support each other and collaborates, organising a series of annual workshops to discuss creativity, artistic production and its distribution.
Images courtesy of: rockpapercloud.com and quodlibetica.com
Text: Annachiara Biondi