Amelia Bauer, ‘Burned Over #2’, 2012, RBcontemporary

“There is an over-all, one-of-a-kind nonesuchness that separates upstate from all other land-units in the world...” Carl Carner

The “burned-over district” of upstate New York is so-named because of the religious fervor that roiled the area in the early 19th century. As settlements pushed westward through the state along Rt 20, termed the “psychic highway,” the territory became the birthplace of several early American religious and occult groups. Included among them were Shakers, Mormons, and the Spiritualsts – those who believed that Mediums could interact with the spirit world via séances. Using Gauze, double exposures, and darkroom techniques, the Spiritualists produced photographs of Mediums with the spirits they summoned.

Inspired by these photographs, I set out to make portraits of the landscape that inspired such religious and spiritual pursuits in these early settlers. Working with a pyrotechnics crew, custom fireworks were created specifically for the shoot, and hiked into the forests of rural upstate New York. The photographs that make up the Burned Over series reveal something felt but not seen about these forests, as though the land itself holds a presence we seek to uncover but fear revealing entirely.

Image rights: ©Amelia Bauer

2013 This Land, RBcontemporary, Milan, IT

About Amelia Bauer

American, b. 1979, Santa Fe, NM, United States, based in New York, NY, United States