Spirit Photography – Fotografia spiritica tra ‘800 e ‘900

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È la fine del XIX secolo, il mondo pare cambiare troppo vorticosamente. Il metallo svetta dal cemento delle metropoli e promette di toccare il cielo. Nuove generazioni si scontrano con quelle vecchie, i cabaret sono affollati da “cocotte”, i bar da artisti che annegano nell’assenzio insieme alle prostitute. La domenica si indossa l’abito buono, chi può permetterselo sfoggia quello bianco. Cambia il modo di ricordare, la fotografia sostituisce le tele dei pittori, e ci descrive di quella strana moda che imperversò durante l’epoca vittoriana giungendo ai primi decenni del nuovo secolo: lo spiritismo. Dalla Russia degli Zar a  Villa Santa Barbara di Cefalù personaggi carismatici, mistici, visionari muovono folle di adepti assetati di conoscere i segreti della vita e della morte. Il clima di trasformazione sociale, i nuovi mostruosi mondi generati dal capitalismo, generano ansia, terrore, malattia. Tubercolosi e sifilide sono solo due tra i tanti virus che decimano impietosi uomini e donne, i dagherrotipi cercano di fermare inutilmente quelle esistenze, ma sono solo fotografie. Allora ci si riunisce in casa, nel salotto, si chiudono le pesanti tende in broccato e intorno a un tavolo solitamente con tre gambe, le mani dei presenti si stringono in una catena, e il medium invoca una presenza. Di seguito una selezione di immagini d’epoca che testimonia la pratica dello spiritismo tra la fine del 1800 e l’inizio del 1900. Come tutte le tendenze, numerosi fiorirono i gabinetti fotografici esperti nel ritrarre quelle immagini che presero il nome di “fotografie spiritiche”.  Alcune tra queste sono frutto di un abile e antesignana pratica di fotoritocco, i cui effetti speciali hanno contribuito ad alimentare come vento sul fuoco le fiamme della speranza, il morbo della conoscenza, consumando le struggenti notti di quel tempo perduto.

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It’s the end of the Nineteenth century, the world seems to change too vortically. Metal stands out from the cemented streets of the metropolises and promises to touch the sky. New generations clash with old ones, cabarets are crowded with “cocottes”, bars by artists drowning in absinthe along with prostitutes. On Sundays people wear the “good dress”, a white one if wealthy. The way to remember changes, photography replaces the paintings, and describes that strange fashion that raged during the Victorian Age reaching the first decades of the new century: spiritualism. From Tsars’ Russia to Villa Santa Barbara in Cefalù, charismatic, mystical and visionary characters move crowds of adepts eager for knowing the secrets of life and death. The mood of general social transformation, the new monstrous worlds created by capitalism, generate anxiety, terror, disease. Tuberculosis and syphilis are just two of the many viruses that merciless decimate men and women, daguerreotypes try to uselessly stop those existences, but they are only photographs. Hence people meet at home, in the living room, they close the heavy brocade curtains and around a table with three legs the hands of those present are clutched in a chain, and the medium invokes the presence. Below you can find a selection of antique images proving the practice of spiritualism between the late 1800s and early 1900s. Like all the trends, there bloomed numerous photographic cabinets, specialized in portraying those images that took the name of “spiritual photographs”. Some of those images are the result of a skilled and precursor practice of photo editing, which special effects have helped to fuel the flames of hope, the morbidness of knowledge like the wind on the fire, consuming the poignant nights of that lost time.

 

Special Thanks for supporting translation SERENA BARTOLO

Luciano Lapadula

Spirit-Photography1

Victorian couple with ghost of daughter

Katie King fu il nome di uno tra i più famosi – presunti – fantasmi che sul finire dell’Ottocento presero forma grazie alla medium Florence Cook, fu così che gli spiritisti attribuirono lo stesso nome alla materializzazione spiritica di quegli anni.

Katie King was a popular ghost evocated by Florence Cook, and was already the name given by Spiritualists in the 1870s to what they believed to be a materialized spirit. The question of whether the spirit was real or a fraud was a notable public controversy of the mid-1870s.

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Katie King materialized, photograph of Sir William Crookes

Eusapia Palladino, nata nel 1854 a Minervino Murge, in provincia di Bari: Fu una tra le medium più conosciute e accreditate di tutti i tempi. L’iniziazione allo spiritismo avvenne quando, lavorando come cameriera presso una benestante famiglia, iniziò a prendere parte alle sedute  organizzate nella lussuosa dimora. Fu durante quelle sedute che si verificarono fenomeni mai accaduti prima, che furono attribuiti alla presenza della giovane. Nella sua carriera di occultista ebbe fama mondiale affascinando aristocratici e scienziati, tra i quali Cesare Lombroso e persino Pierre e Marie Curie.

Eusapia Palladino, born in 1854 in Minervino Murge, near Bari: she was one of the best known and accredited mediums of all time. The initiation into spiritism came when, working as a waitress with a rich family, she began to take part in the sessions inside the luxurious home. It was during those sessions that phenomena never happened before were ascribed to the presence of the young woman. In her career as an occultist she gained world fame by captivating aristocrats and scientists, including Cesare Lombroso and even Pierre and Marie Curie.

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Fotografia-delle-mani-di-Eusapia-Palladino.-Collezione-Tony-Oursler

Eusapia Palladino Hands. Collection Tony Oursler

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The well-know italian medium Eusapia Palladino during a spiritual seance

Seance with Eusapia Palladino at the home of Camille Flammario 1898

Eusapia Palladino at the home of Camille Flammarion, Rue Cassini. Full levitation of a table. 12 November 1898

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Victorian Spiritualism Movement Seance conducted by John Beattie in Bristol in England, 1872

vintage History ghost 1920s ghosts levitation

Ghost levitation

Amazing spirit photography by astonishing William Hope: english author, photographer, sailor, and body-builder

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William Hope

spirit photography

William Hope

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William Hope

French medium Marthe Beraud aka Eva Carriere

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Materialização ectoplásmica eva carriere 1912

A young woman face appear from ectoplasm by Eva Carriére  – 1912

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1912: Eva Carriere has a spiritic light between her hands and a materialization on her head.

Richard Boursnell (1832 – 1909), medium e fotografo britannico esperto in immagini spiritiche. Suoi alcuni tra i più intensi scatti mai realizzati su questo tema.

Richard Boursnell (1832 – 1909), medium and British photographer expert in spiritual images. His some of the most intense shots ever made on this subject.

Richard Boursnell - Spirit Photographer c.1908

Robert Boursnell, Self-Portrait with Spirits, Silver print cabinet card, March 1902

Robert Boursnell, Self-Portrait with Spirits, Silver print cabinet card

spitism photography

Frederick A. Hudson (England)
Mr. Raby with the Spirits “Countess,” “James Lombard,” “Tommy,” and the Spirit of Mr. Wootton’s Mother.
circa 1875 – from www.photographymuseum.com

M. Parkes (England), Mrs. Collins & Her Husband's Father, Recognized by Several, Albumen carte de visite, 1875

M. Parkes (England), Mrs. Collins & Her Husband’s Father, Recognized by Several, 1875

Spesso durante le sedute medianiche si materializzava, o si supponeva si materializzasse, una sostanza semi liquida che fuoriusciva dagli orifizi del medium, a cui lo scienziato Charles Richet dette il nome di ectoplasma. Questo poteva assumere svariate forme, riconducibili all’esistenza del trapassato.

Often during the seance sessions, a semi-liquid substance materialized, or was supposed to materialize, it came out of the medium’s orifices, to which the scientist Charles Richet gave the name of ectoplasm. It could take many forms, attributable to the existence of the person who passed away.

According to spiritualists, it was a substance that would be externalized by the bodily orifices of the medium during a séance.

ectoplasm regurgitation

The ectoplasm comes out as a regurgitation from the mouth of the medium into a trance

ectoplasm

F. C. E. Dimmick (England) blog

C. E. Dimmick (England)
“Mrs. Dorothy Henderson. Head bent forward, hands controlled and Ectoplasm covering her lap.”
October 2, 1928 – www.photographymuseum.com

W. J. Crawford - The psychic structures at the Goligher circle

W. J. Crawford – The psychic structures at the Goligher circle

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Ectoplasm from Kathleen Goligher

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A well-known medium, Mina “Margery” Crandon conducting a séance

The famous medium Mina “Margery” Crandon (1889 – 1941) conducting a séance – late 20s

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dangerous ectoplasm for Mina “Margery” Crandon

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Look down, on the right

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Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler – 1922

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When Madonna was Evita

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Cinema, Moda, Musica incontrano la storia. Siamo nel 1996 e una camaleontica Madonna indossa i panni di Evita Peron, attrice e adorata First Lady argentina nell’immediato dopoguerra. Per il film, diretto da Alan Parker, Italia e Francia gareggiano tra loro in sala costumi: la sartoria romana Tirelli cura il guardaroba con Penny Rose, vestiti e tailleur ricreati su modello di quelli indossati da Evita si alternano a capi autentici anni ’40 e il New Look di Dior trionfa per la sera con autentici capolavori di alta moda.

Le pellicce indossate da Madonna sono create da Fendi, per la casa di moda un classico dai tempi di “Gruppo di Famiglia in un Interno”. Per le calzature, invece, ci si ricorda di Ferragamo, brand amato in vita dalla Peron. Nulla dunque è trascurato, le bellissime acconciature di Martin Samuel completano un aspetto il cui risultato è straordinario: il film vince l’Oscar e la costumista, per gli 85 abiti presenti nel film, si aggiudica il BAFTA.

E forse questo grande lavoro di ricerca e ricostruzione sarebbe piaciuto a Monsier Christian Dior, il quale un giorno disse:

“l’unica regina che io abbia mai vestito è stata Evita Peron”.

Luciano Lapadula

Cinema, Fashion, Music meet history. We are in 1996 and a chameleon-like Madonna wearing the clothes of Evita Peron, actress and beloved Argentine First Lady in the immediate post-war period. For the movie, directed by Alan Parker, Italy and France compete in the costumes room: the Roman tailoring Tirelli takes care of the wardrobe with Penny Rose, clothes and suits recreated on the model worn by Evita alternate with authentic ’40s and Dior’s New Look style gown for the evening with authentic high fashion masterpieces. The furs worn by Madonna are created by Fendi, for the fashion house a classic from the time of “Conversation Piece”. For the shoes, however, they remember Ferragamo, a brand loved by Peron in life. Nothing is therefore overlooked, the beautiful hairstyles of Martin Samuel complete an aspect whose result is extraordinary: the movie wins the Oscar and the costume designer, for the 85 dresses in the film, is awarded the BAFTA. And perhaps this great research work and reconstruction would have pleased Monsieur Christian Dior, who one day said:”The only queen I ever dressed was Eva Peron.”

Luciano Lapadula

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madonna as evita peron dresses same fashion dress fur fashion cinema movie history moda gown dior fendi white suit tailleur christian hat

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When an old photo describes a moment in life

La modella, è elegante con i suoi capelli biondi  raccolti in uno chignon illuminato da un fermaglio dorato. Indossa un maglioncino verde come la speranza mentre, dando le spalle a noi e alla camera, è immersa nella fotografia che stringe tra le mani. Contempla un ritratto in bianco e nero, sbiadito come un malinconico ricordo. 

Quest’opera d’arte è frutto del lavoro della fotogafa Frances McLaughlin-Gill, e venne pubblicato il 1′ dicembre 1946 su Vogue America. Frances fu la prima donna a ottenere un contratto come fotografa per Vogue Usa.

The model is elegant with her hair pulled back and held up with a clip. Her back is to us and to the camera, and she’s wearing a low cut evening crochet sweater, green as hope. The #atmosphere is full of feeling and #sadness. She is looking at one photo. In black and white like an old #memory.

This atrwork was made by Frances McLaughlin-Gill for Vogue, year 1946. Frances was the first female fashion photographer under contract with #Vogue

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Ph by Frances McLaughlin-Gill’s, appeared on Vogue – 1th December 1946

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“The Macabre and Grotesque in Fashion and Costume History”

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