This article explores how art photographers have used return as a practice and an aesthetic to think about the meaning of southern history. In particular, it focuses on the use of return in work made by Emmet Gowin, William Christenberry, and Sally Mann in the last four decades of the twentieth century. In the photographs examined here, these artists render the forms of history visible by returning to photograph the same place, people, or subjects at different times. They restage old images or revisit places photographed by others. They employ old photographic processes, formats, and materials. And they consciously go back to former histories, to older Souths and to the relationships people have constructed with these pasts. In their work, return as a practice, a process, a subject, and an aesthetic structures time and, in this way, marks and makes history. How we understand and give form and meaning to change over time becomes as much the subject of this work as what exists on the other side of the lens.


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pp. 12-41
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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