I'm giddy with anticipation about Shannon Taggart's forthcoming book, SÉANCE: Spiritualist Ritual and the Search for Ectoplasm. For those not familiar, Taggart is the world's foremost contemporary spirit photographer. She has created sublime, iconic images of Brooklyn Vodou rituals, Lily Dale mediumship, and other communities devoted to contacting the other side. She is also an extremely insightful lecturer and writer about such topics as ectoplasm, glitch, and the uncanny, and I was thrilled to have her present at the first Occult Humanities Conference at NYU, as well as to feature her work in my exhibition, Language of the Birds: Occult and Art.
This book will be a monograph that showcases her extensive explorations of Spiritualism, including photographs of her subjects channeling, table tipping, spoon bending, and having other spirit encounters. It's been a long time coming, and I'm excited to see this finally materialize.
One thing to note: this book is being crowd-funded through Unbound, and your pledge serves as a pre-order, which will ensure the book gets published. As such, there are various levels of support you can choose from over and above purchasing the book, and they include all sorts of otherworldly bonus items such as a bent spoon, a reading from a Lily Dale medium, and archival photo prints.
Have a read through the details below, and then please support this exceptional project if you are able! The spirits will thank you.
SÉANCE: Spiritualist Ritual and the Search for Ectoplasm
The mysterious process of photographing spiritualist transformation
Spiritualism, the American-born religion, attempts to demonstrate through the intercession of a medium that death is not the end, but a transition. I first became aware of Spiritualism as a teenager, after my cousin received a reading from a medium who revealed a secret about my grandfather’s death that proved to be true. Since then, I have been deeply curious about how a total stranger could have learned something my family had kept confidential.
N.B. If you live in the United States, choosing a pledge level "With Postage to the USA" will ensure lower shipping rates.
Each generation produces a very small number of artists, researchers and seekers who bring great integrity and critical realism to study of the occult and paranormal. Shannon is one of the very few in our time. As a photographer and critically sympathetic researcher, Shannon demonstrates the most rare of traits: ability to think beyond given categories and never, ever to sacrifice intellectual integrity for drama or hasty conclusions. Shannon would be a stellar researcher in any field; but in this one, so fraught with pitfalls and blind alleys, she is a worldwide resource.
Mitch Horowitz, PEN Award-winning author of Occult America
SHANNON TAGGART is a photographer and independent researcher based in Brooklyn, New York. Her photographs have been exhibited and featured internationally, including within the publications TIME, New York Times Magazine, Discover and Newsweek. Her work has been recognised by Nikon, Magnum Photos and the Inge Morath Foundation, American Photography, the International Photography Awards and the Alexia Foundation for World Peace. From 2014 to 2016, she was Scholar and Artist-in-Residence at the Morbid Anatomy Museum in New York. Shannon lectures internationally on her work.