Erica ShiresUntitled (200X)

Sally Mann is perhaps the contemporary artist most associated with collodion wet plates processes.

There’s a scene in the wonderful HBO documentary What Remains; while preparing a plate, Mann mentions that collodion was originally used as a means of closing up wounds.

It’s an unsettling caveat from a woman who spent the majority of her most ambitious work photographing the specters of death.

There is always too much reverence with Mann’s work to tolerate even the slightest waste.

(Will Graham would say: this is my design.)

There’s no doubt Erica Shires is good. The question is: how good is she?

Her colors pop without ever supersaturating. Her compositions are at once rigorously formal and effortless. She presents her subjects with a studied yet unassuming intimacy.

If there were a list of the best 40 photographers under 40, the viability of the list could be judged based on whether or not Shires’ appears in the top 5. (Any list where she doesn’t would be utter bollocks and for whatever my opinion is worth, the top spot belongs to her.)

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