Christopher Schneberger

Dancing With the Spirit, 2000, © Christopher Schneberger
toned gelatin silver print, mixed media, 26×26″

Communing with Spirits

The series I am currently engaged in deals with traditions of ghostlore, accounts of ghost sightings, the common themes and ethereal threads that connect them. The images I create involve spirits who inhabit environments of the living, in some cases interacting with the living. The spirits are dressed as they were in life, indicating their desire to remain among us. In the instances where the living interact with these spirits, the living are alone and are willing participants in the encounter. A common motive for haunting is the ghost’s need for answers, but in these images the living seem to be also seeking something from the apparitions. In Dancing with the Spirit, a young man dances with a woman’s ghost as the graveyard they’re in becomes a makeshift ballroom. The young man’s longing suggests that he may be more of a lost soul than his partner. Are these specters real or imagined? By these encounters I mean to bring into question the boundary between the two realms, and whether in fact we are all ghosts in some regard. Some of the images and narratives are based on specific legends or sightings, while others are fictional. Although ghosts have held a place in horror fiction and cinema, these works are not meant to invoke fear. No violence is present, and the spirits inhabit the material realm in a relatively peaceful manner.

The majority of the works are two-dimensional pieces incorporating a toned black and white photograph into a heavy frame and behind glass which is treated with shellac. Other works take the form of Victorian era stereocards. These stereophotographs allow the viewer to see the ghosts’ transparent form in three dimensions and really bring the audience into the scene.

The presentation of the work is as much a part of the concept as the imagery and it is tailored to give a period feel, both antiquated and distressed, owing to a different era. The frames I use are intregral to the works, and I consider them part of the pieces.


One thought on “Christopher Schneberger

  1. I had the pleasure of sitting through one of Schneberger’s lecture presentations on his work of the spirits and pre-cinematic devices through which you see the work ‘come to life.’ The level of craft involved in this work adds to it being successful. He not only creates these ethereal images well, but each viewing device and each environment in which he installs his work are works of art themselves. I also find it ironic that the images are created digitally and then conveyed as relics from the past.

    The way in which people fetishize the spirit world and the whole spiritualist movement of the early 1900’s is strongly conveyed throughout the way the viewer is intended to see the work. The work (much of it) must be seen through a device that adds life and reality to a subject that is otherwise dead and stagnant. The rooms he creates to install the work add credibility to the things he has conjured in his imagination by way repetition from image to physical place.

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