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Haunted Houses

Haunted houses and crime scene dioramas in a morbidly fascinating photographer's work

by Greg Stefano in Culture on 29 April 2011

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Photographer Corinne May Botz' imagery teases out the human relationship with the supernatural. In her latest show at the Kennedy Museum of Art, photos from Botz's "Haunted Houses" series are on display as part of the collection "Shadows and Phenomena". Shot over several years, Botz paired her photographs of "haunted house" interiors across the United States with a series of contemporary first-hand ghost stories.

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The enchanting stills, inspired by turn-of-the-century spirit photographs and Victorian ghost stories, speak to the dystopian and sometimes romantic tales of discontent told by women long dead. Botz sees herself as a medium in the haunted environments, tapping her female sensitivity to the supernatural to capture eerie moments in time in hopes of unleashing the invisible nuances present there. Spiritually unfathomable and complex to some, those with curious imaginations or a touch of morbidity will find it compelling.

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Another of Botz' fantastically dark projects continuing the themes of macabre and female experiences is documented in her 2004 book "The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death". The monograph is a series of photographs of miniature crime scene dioramas built by honorary police captain Frances Glesner Lee. Lee, a wealthy divorcee, discovered the power of independence late in life when she dedicated herself to enhancing the field of murder investigation, constructing extremely detailed (down to grains of sugar on the floor) models of crime scenes to train detectives how to look for and follow clues.

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"Shadows and Phenomena" runs through 19 June 2011, but if you can't make it to Ohio the Haunted Houses book sells from Amazon, and be sure to check out more images from the Nutshell series in the gallery below.

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