One of the highlights of the Heritage Square Museum’s Halloween and Mourning Tours this weekend was a display of “spirit photography” in the Perry Mansion, performed by Mario Corral, Jordan Byrne, and Donna Anderson. Although I am no expert on the subject, I did attend an exhibition of spirit photography a few years ago (“Immaterial World” at the Stephen Cohen Gallery), which familiarized me with the art, whose most notable aspect to the modern eye is its rather transparent fakery. At the time, I assumed that the human subjects in the photographs were in on the con game, but the mini-performance at Heritage Square presents a different spin, with a pair of self-proclaimed spirit photographers describing their work, which involves involves exploiting a grief-struck woman who has lost both her husband and her child.
The Halloween and Mourning Tours also included a display of Victorian Era Halloween party favors and decorations, fortunate telling, and re-enactments of funeral customs. This video provides a glimpse of these activities but focuses mostly on the spirit photography.