Photos Day or Night: The Archive of Hugh Mangum
By Sarah Stacke with texts by Maurice Wallace and Martha Sumler. Published by Red Hook Editions, 2018. Designed by Bonnie Briant.
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Photos Day or Night: The Archive of Hugh Mangum is a close-up look at the life and work of American photographer Hugh Mangum. Made in collaboration with Mangum’s granddaughter Martha Sumler, the book features never-before-seen photographs and ephemera from their family archive.
Mangum worked in North Carolina and the Virginias at the turn of the 20th century. A businessman and artist who supported his family, he welcomed clients from across racial and economic divides. The archive he left behind allows a penetrating gaze into the segregated South during Redemption and Jim Crow, the turbulent and far-reaching eras that bolstered white supremacy after the Civil War's Reconstruction period. Mangum’s archive also encompasses World War I, women’s suffrage and debilitating legislation aimed at immigrants and Native Americans.
Mangum, I learned when I began researching his archive in 2010, often used a Penny Picture camera. Designed to allow multiple and distinct exposures on a single glass-plate negative, the sequences mirror the order his diverse clientele flowed through the studio on a particular day.
After entering Mangum’s studio, people sat resolutely, curiously, gracefully, dreamily and politely before his lens. Many played — Mangum encouraged it. And there were those who sought a portrait because, despite living in a time full of restrictions, many of which were enforced with violence, they believed in a life without limits. A photograph was one way to divine a fragment of that life, whether it was social mobility, unrestricted love, equality or whatever “limitless” personally meant to someone. In Mangum’s archive, boundaries — in life and in photographic space — are blurred, subverted, defied and overthrown. After all, being seen is what begins a revolution.
Winner of the 2019 PDN Photo Annual, Photo Books Category
A stunning look at never-before-seen photographs and ephemera from [Mangum’s] family archive. This is now one of my favorite photography books!
An unusually vibrant portrait of both the man behind the camera and the subjects in front of it.
The first published collection of the work...it offers a rare glimpse into everyday life in the American South following the Civil War and Reconstruction.
The photographs in here are badass...frame three, BOOM...the two of them looking like they just robbed a train and were about to go have sex and then spend a few dollars at the casino afterwards.
–Jonathan Blaustein, aPhotoEditor
Also featured by NPR, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Financial Times, BuzzFeed, aPhotoEditor, and more.
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