'The callous winds fanning months of wildfires burned – white and desolate. While beyond the mountainside, the forest trees and cavern walls were quickly covered with an aftermath of unmistakable soot. It was the first in a series of occurrences to stir the spirits from the blackness of a heavy sleep.

As the air cleared, gatherings commenced and the night awoke with luminous globes falling in arcs from the starry abyss. The atmosphere echoed with anticipation and foreshadowed the arrival of imminent instruction from a distant constellation.' – excerpt from the companion  story by Antone Dolezal, published in A Place Both Wonderful and Strange, Fuego Books

 

Part of Fortune and  Part of Spirit
 Antone Dolezal
 

The Southwestern United States possesses a strange tale of western settlers seeking a utopian future. For those who aspire for divine knowledge it’s a place that holds the key to the mysteries of the cosmos. Luminous globes falling in arcs from the night sky, giant craters in the earth and unidentified radio signals all create fertile ground for conspiracy and myth to take root. Here beliefs both old and new intertwine, creating a realm where the magical and the ordinary are one and the same. 

This work focuses on new religious movements of the region and the beliefs to which they adhere. Influenced by folklore of the American West, Sci-Fi cinema, secret military programs and Eastern and Indigenous mysticism the religious faiths I follow form a complex and entangled story. One aimed to illuminate the boundaries of belief and offer a meditation into the ideologies meant to eclipse the cycle of conventional life.

My photographs are combined with documents and images acquired from government archives, as well as original manuscripts tracing the origins of several religious faiths. Through the layering of these elements, this work aims to grant access to the traumas, wonder and eccentric realities of those living just outside the periphery of popular conventions. I see myself as not only presenting the myths and histories I unearth, but also being an active participant in the evolution of their representation.