Adam Fuss


In Between

Adam Fuss was born in London in 1961; he lives in New York. He first visited Sabbathday Lake with France Morin on Decemer 14 and 15, 1995. He returned the following summer. Of his experience, he has stated: "I don't think there was a collaboration. There was an exchange between two different worlds—between an urban world and a rural world; between people in the middle of contemporary culture and those in this extreme, peripheral place; between religious values and whatever we have; between sexual points" (Adam Fuss, in Janet A. Kaplan, "The Quiet in the Land: Everyday Life, Contemporary Art, and the Shakers: A Conversation with Janet A. Kaplan," Art Journal 57, no. 2 (Summer 1998): p.7).

Out of his experience, Fuss produced a series of photographs of ladders entitled In Between (1997). The series consists of Alfred, Gorham, and Sabbathday Lake—each the name of a Shaker community in Maine. He had already been working with the image of the ladder, which had interested him as a spiritual vehicle. During his stay, he collected ladders, some worn and broken, in the Shaker Village. He found these ladders to be provocative metaphors for the functional structure of the Shaker family that has persevered through generations. Although the community members are celibate and do not marry, they conceive of themselves as a family, referring to each other as Brother and Sister. The Shakers have, from their beginnings, lived and worked in an alternative social paradigm, which includes shared governance between its male and female members, and a fundamental belief in the dual nature of God as both Mother and Father. This alternate "coupling" is echoed by the symmetrical forms of the individual ladders that Fuss photographed and then printed in life-size on silk and Mylar.