'It is that sense of an incomplete narrative that Shipley and Dolezal make excellent use of here: they are able to suggest rather than declare. This is not a documentary project, then, except insofar as they are explicitly concerned with real people living in real places and have a sharp eye for all the contradictory impulses that define any community, witnesses to that moment of obsolescence where living tradition becomes memory. Here the Ozarks make for an exemplary study of those forces shaping so much recent American history, marked by a gravitational pull between past and present, revealing how apparently stable traditions are overtaken by new social realities.' — excerpt from the essay Light of Time by Darren Campion, Paper Journal
A collaborative project by Antone Dolezal + Lara Shipley
The Ozark backwoods are a place you feel. The dark nooks to hide, made in encroaching woods and the banks of rivers, the smell of wet life and decay, a steady insect hum, all create a backdrop for a people with a particular fascination for the mysteries of darkness and light. Here some of the oldest stories of humanity are told—wanderers’ lost souls and paths taken towards good or evil—but with a local twist in the tale of a strange orb of light.
Folkloric stories can provide insight into very real issues in a community. This region is marked by isolated poverty, wariness of outsiders, and a struggle between heaven and hell that factors into everyday conversation. Spook Light is known as a floating orb found on a wooded road in a region where the Devil is said to reside. In lieu of a scientific explanation the appearance of the Spook Light has come to represent for the community a desire for redemption and the fear of slipping into darkness. It is the sublime experience whose defiance of explanation provides a reprieve from ordinary life while the stories told to explain its origin are firmly rooted in the foundation of human existence.
Devil’s Promenade is a project about our home region that blends folklore and local history with present day photographs of Ozark people, the land, and interpretive images based on the living mythology of the Light. These photographs are combined with oral accounts, short fiction, and found photographs from the region’s past in the three-part book series Spook Light Chronicles. Our aim is not to provide documentation or an explanation of the phenomenon, but to suggest a narrative that, in the spirit of the light, is part fixed in this unique region and part afloat in a mysterious, otherworldly realm.
For more of Lara Shipley's work, visit: www.larashipley.com