The Occult Woman | Earth Magic by Rik Garrett
Throughout time, I’ve been increasingly fascinated with the mysticism and enchantment of the archetypal she-demon; the goddess who dwells deep in the forest and embodies all that must remain untouched; a powerful entity of the most beautiful and alluring yet most deadly. As a female, I have identified with this mysterious she who bathes in moonlight and mystery, who dances to the deep and hollow beating of her own sacred drum, whom cannot be conquered by mere mortal man; the connoisseur of her own craft, the mother of her own self.
Using his own form of earthly magic, Rik Garrett has beautifully brought to life this image of the mortal woman who seeks divinity in the dark realms of nature.
“Inspirations for this series came from ideas regarding witchcraft – what is considered a “witch” in different cultures or different times? I was largely inspired by books written in the 15th and 16th century made for the purpose of “hunting” witches. These books demonized women and described them as being almost inhuman. I thought that this might not necessarily be a bad thing. The authors were almost romanticizing their otherness. I connected this to thoughts from when I was younger – women seemed mysterious, as though they were part of a secret cabal that I was denied entrance to. I felt as though there was some kind of occult knowledge being passed down, and I felt left out. So in some ways, “Earth Magic” is my attempt at illustrating this world. A world where a tribe of women exist apart from society, attuned to the Earth, possessing pre-historical knowledge of nature and its mysteries.” — Rik Garrett
What intrigues me the most about this series is the process Rik used to create the photographs. The wet plate collodion process is a technique that existed primarily in the 1850s and is rarely seen these days as it was quickly replaced after its introduction. It is known as a very inconvenient process as it requires “the photographic material to be coated, sensitized, exposed and developed within the span of about fifteen minutes.” I find the fact that Rik used this technique to be very beautiful. It seems only fitting to make the process highly tactile and traditional, just like the aura of the photographs.
Along with exhibitions of this series at Resistance Gallery in London, UK and Morpho Gallery in Chicago, IL, Rik has put together handmade booklets of 13 photographs from the series, (to coincide with 13 members of a coven), available for purchase from a limited edition of 100 signed copies. More details about the book and where to purchase it are here.
Some of Earth Magic also appears in his Codex Maleficarum, “a work regarding witches and witchcraft. The title is a reference to earlier books on the subject, including Malleus Maleficarum (from the 15th century) and Compendium Maleficarum (from the 17th). Continuing in this tradition, I’ve treated the material similarly by compiling information from other sources and editing it to fit my own beliefs and biases.”