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Gorgeous, Spooky Photos of Old Cemeteries

Rachel Stern's 'Yes, Death.' is a new show opening in Brooklyn that features gothic-looking photos of graveyards in the American South.

"Yes, death. Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one's head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no tomorrow. To forget time, to forget life, to be at peace." –Oscar Wilde

In the 19th century, "rural"- or "garden"-style cemeteries became fashionable in the US and Europe. They were conceived as parks where people could go to picnic and spend leisure time among their departed friends and family. They often followed a meandering plan, with tombs and monuments that looked like they sprouted out of the ground by nature's own design. The designers of these places may not have suspected that future teen goths would withdraw to similar spaces to smoke weed and explore one anothers' bodies, but New York–based artist Rachel Stern still likes to think of them as sites where the living and the dead can chill together.

This past Memorial Day, Rachel and I walked through one such cemetery and talked about her exhibition Yes, Death., which opens tonight at Black and White Gallery's Project Space in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The show will feature 16 darkroom prints of photographs Stern made on a trip through the Southern United States that was funded by Columbia University, where she recently graduated from with an MFA. It also includes a sculptural installation that Stern describes as a "pastel valentine of a cemetery plot," where guests will be invited to hang out. –Matthew Leifheit

The following is a preview of the photographs on display:

Yes, Death. opens tonight, June 17, at Black and White Gallery's project space at 56 Bogart Street, Brooklyn. The opening will be from 6 to 9 PM, and the show will remain on view through the end of June.

At the artists request, here is a link to donate to victims of the Pulse shooting.