Week 4 Discussion Topic: Documenting Spiritualism

Shannon Taggart, Reverend Jean heals Jennifer, Lily Dale, NY

Shannon Taggart, Reverend Jean heals Jennifer, Lily Dale, NY

In class, we briefly touched on the beginnings of spirit photography. The contemporary photographer Shannon Taggart has photographed Lily Dale, the world’s largest Spiritualist community in western New York. Taggart gave a talk here at CityTech last spring on her work. Her photographic projects often focus on alternative types of religious experience. Taggart’s photographic work includes a project on the Haitian practice of Vodou right here in Brooklyn.

We will discuss the difficulty of producing religious imagery via photography (for example, look at F. Holland Day). For this post, I would like you to read an article of Taggart’s work in Slate and consider the difficulties of documenting spiritualism or any religious experience. Do you think such documentation possible? valuable? intrusive?

Click here for the article on Shannon Taggart’s photography “The World’s Hub for Spiritualism in a Tiny New York Town.”

You can explore her photography on her personal website shannontaggart.com here.

Please share your thoughts with your classmates by next Wednesday, October 8th.