Shannon Taggart: SEANCE
1st 2019 298pp Fulgur landscape hardback. Illustrated in colour throughout. Knock to bottom of spine else VG+.
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.