Shannon Taggart: Séance
American photographer Shannon Taggart (born 1975) became aware of spiritualism as a teenager when her cousin received a message from a medium that revealed details about her grandfather's death. In 2001, while working as a photojournalist, she began photographing where that message was received--Lily Dale, New York, home to the world's largest spiritualist community, proceeding to other communities in, for example, Arthur Findlay College in the UK. Taggart expected to spend one summer figuring out the tricks of the spiritualist trade. Instead, spiritualism's mysterious processes, earnest practitioners and neglected photographic history became an inspiration. Her project evolved into an 18-year journey that has taken her around the world in search of "ectoplasm"-- the elusive substance that is said to be both spiritual and material.With Séance, Taggart offers a series of haunting photographs exploring spiritualist practices in the US, England and Europe. Supported with a commentary on her experiences, a foreword by Dan Aykroyd, creator of Ghostbusters and fourth-generation spiritualist, and illustrated essays from Andreas Fischer and Tony Oursler, Séance examines spiritualism's relationship with human celebrity and its connections with technology, and concludes with the debate over ectoplasm and how spiritualism can move forward in the 21st century.
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About the Author
Shannon Taggart, a photographer whose passion for documenting Spiritualist rituals began in Lily Dale, has spent nearly two decades capturing the practices by which mediums (and their curious customers) attempt to reach those beyond the veil.--Paris Review
Taggart's captivating photos and their captions are each enthralling in their own right, but made all the more powerful thanks to the rich essays and historical information that precede them. This book is a marvel.--Maika "Haute Macabre "
Shannon Taggart's book Séance presents images from within contemporary Spiritualist communities that most of us are totally unaware of, offering an eerie but sometimes very sweet portrait of a religion that is shrouded in darkness.--Emily Gosling "Elephant "
Séance illuminates the objects that are integral to spiritualist practices. Cutlery, radios and handkerchiefs are among the strange assortment of household items harnessed to bridge the gap between living and dead. By experimenting with chiaroscuro and exposure, Taggart casts these objects in an otherworldly light, haunting the viewer with a sense of the uncanny.--Madeleine Pollard "Financial Times "
Taggart's photos...are beautiful, tender, and frequently eerie, as images of wonder and faith, hovering at the threshold of invisible worlds, should be.--Alex Jovanovich "Bookforum "
A photographer's 18-year quest to uncover Spiritualism's radical feminist history.--Sara Rosen "Document Journal "