purgatory road 2011 – still in progress
purgatory road takes its title from an actual place where i live during the summer months, a wooded region in rural new york that is divided by an infamous dirt-covered path. local legends surround this road where on one side, commonly known as “devil’s pit”, the land falls into a cavernous cliff that is ominous, damp, and bug infested. on the opposite side lies a peaceful verdant forest; because of its uncanny resemblance to a setting in a children’s story, residents call it “fairyland”. the collision of these two polarities conceptually sets the tone for a new series that uses this landscape as a backdrop to explore a metaphoric state of “in-between”; a place where the physical world is subjective, rational thought meets the unconscious, and man and nature commune in mysterious ways. on a broader scope, these images are my meditation on the precarious condition of the environment as well as a reflection on our current cultural state of anxiety and anticipation.
photographed on location or composed from natural specimens collected on walks through the woods, my images collectively describe a sense of place, while capturing the myriad stages of life and death. i am especially interested in quiet moments that seem to hover between fragility and regeneration, where time and space feel suspended and uncertainty reigns. to help capture this, i shoot with film through painted and weathered handmade filters that need to be illuminated or activated by the sun. an intricate relationship between content and form emerges as nature serves as both my subject and my collaborator. light and shadow, transparent layering, and the element of chance help to invoke a sense of the nonphysical and create a window where the external and internal have the potential to meet. here, the landscape is intentionally blurred, muddled, and cryptic as reality transforms into something ethereal. in essence, i see these photos as unsolved puzzles where the process of distorting or abstracting the camera’s seemingly objective gaze yields more questions than answers and perception itself can easily slip to one side of the “road” or the other.
all content © krista steinke all rights reserved
found at la journal de la photographie