TAKE ME TO THE WATER: PHOTOGRAPHS OF RIVER BAPTISMS
INTERNATIONAL CENTER OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Religious rituals in America are not often public spectacles. A key exception was the tradition of river baptisms that flourished in the South and Midwest between 1880 and 1930. These outdoor communal rites were public displays of faith, practiced by thousands of Protestants, and witnessed by whole communities. A combination of economic depression and industrialization spurred religious fundamentalism in rural areas, and media-savvy preachers promoted mass revivals and encouraged a dialogue about religion in popular culture and media. Photographs of river baptisms were often disseminated as postcards, both by worshippers documenting their personal life-affirming experiences and by tourists noting exotic practices and vanishing folk traditions. This small exhibition of vintage postcards and a panorama is drawn from a unique archive of vernacular river baptism photographs in the collection of the International Center of Photography. This exhibition is organized by Erin Barnett, ICP Assistant Curator of Collections.
In addition, Curator Erin Barnett has posted an announcement about the upcoming Take Me to the Water exhibition of Real Photo Post Cards (along with numerous photographs) at the International Center of Photography blog Fans in a Flashbulb, as follows:
"In January, ICP will be presenting a small selection of postcards of river baptisms, drawn from a treasure trove of over 200 images, which was donated by collectors Janna Rosenkranz and Jim Linderman in 2007. Since there’s not enough room on the walls, here’s a peak at some of the wonderful images that won’t be in the show (but that can be found in the Grammy-nominated publication and CD Take Me to the Water."
The Grammy Nominated Book/CD Take Me to the Water: Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950 by Luc Sante, Jim Linderman and Lance Ledbetter will be available at the Museum Bookstore.
Photograph collection International Center of Photography, Gift of Janna Rosenkranz and Jim Linderman