Arts & Culture

Some Say Ice by Alessandra Sanguinetti

An exhibition at the Magnum Gallery in Paris presents an immersive journey into the photographer's eerie and timeless depiction of Black River Falls.

Filmore St. Black River Falls, Wisconsin, USA, 2021. All images © Alessandra Sanguinetti / Magnum Photos

Currently on view at the Magnum Gallery in Paris is an exhibition of works from Alessandra Sanguinetti’s fifth book, Some Say Ice. 

Sanguinetti first traveled to the rural town of Black River Falls in Wisconsin in 2014. As a child, she had discovered a copy of Michael Lesy’s eerie Wisconsin Death Trip on the bookshelves of her home in Buenos Aires. Sanguinetti now describes this encounter with the lost generations of Black River Falls as the moment she first acknowledged her own mortality, and an essential motivation behind her early interest in photography.

Fall Players. Black River Falls, USA, 2018.

“It was the first time my nine-year-old mind understood that many more people had come before me, and I never would have been able to look in their eyes if not for those photographs,” she writes of her reaction to Michael Lesy’s book in the epilogue to Some Say Ice. “Soon after this, I started photographing everything and everyone in my life, to keep all of us from disappearing.”

Fawn. Hayward, Wisconsin, USA, 2022.

"I started photographing everything and everyone in my life, to keep all of us from disappearing. "

Jeff. Melrose, Wisconsin, USA, 2021.
Lauren. Hixton, USA, 2014.

Over the course of eight years, Sanguinetti would return to the Midwestern town often to photograph the people, places and rituals of the communities, building relationships with locals of the fabled town. Most of the work, she describes, was made in deep winter, when the days were “dark, short and somewhat claustrophobic” — a feeling that seeps through into the images of Some Say Ice, enveloping Sanguinetti’s subjects with doubt and darkness.

K-9 training. Black River Falls, USA, 2014.

The book, published by MACK in 2022, presents a mysterious juxtaposition between mortality and timelessness. Intimate portraits and group shots capture the inhabitants of the town in moments absent of visible expression or feeling. Animals, domesticated and wild, feature both alive and dead. Ghostly houses and interiors are void of color or character, often displaying curious but distant traces of their inhabitants. And icy landscapes present the cold, harsh reality of the winter months.

Lake Geneva, USA, 2021.

And now, the 28 works of the exhibition immerse the visitor in an eerie, timeless depiction of Black River Falls and its inhabitants through the photographer’s nuanced and enigmatic lens.

Amira, Adonia, and Abriana. Black River Falls, USA, 2019.

“Sanguinetti is an exceptional eye from her generation,” writes Samantha McCoy, Director of the Paris Gallery. “This latest, much anticipated, body of work is nothing short of arresting. Some Say Ice is an enveloping, cinematic world of contradiction, in which we are reminded of the beauty and fragility of life.”

The brothers' kitchen. Black River Falls, 2014.

"Some Say Ice is an enveloping, cinematic world of contradiction, in which we are reminded of the beauty and fragility of life."

Black River Falls, USA, 2014.

The exhibition is on view at the Magnum Gallery (68 rue Léon Frot, Paris, 75011) until February 10, 2024. Works exhibited are available to acquire.

And for those unable to visit in person, Samantha McCoy explores a selection of works from the exhibition in an Instagram Live at the Gallery, available to view here.

More on this: 

An Interview with Alessandra Sanguinetti Around Some Say Ice 

Framing Sound, an Online Exhibition From the Magnum Gallery 

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