Sally Mann has a gift for provoking strong reactions and her pictures of rotting corpses certainly do that. She took them at the University of Tennessee's anthropological facility at Knoxville, aka the "body farm", where human decomposition is studied scientifically. The bodies are mostly left in an outdoor setting and lie there for months or even years. In Steven Cantor's 2006 television documentary about Mann, she is observed happily wandering from cadaver to cadaver, prodding this body part and stroking that one, unfazed by the maggots and reek of decay.
"Death makes us sad, but it can also make us feel more alive," she says. "I couldn't wait to get there. The smell didn't bother me. And you should see the colours – they're really beautiful. As Wallace Stevens says, death is the mother of beauty."