It began at the end of the sixties and into the seventies. The Vietnam War was ending; Paul McCartney announced The Beatles were breaking up; Charlie Chaplin passed away; Stanley Kubrick released A Clockwork Orange…
Amid all this, two women, armed with a gun and a knife, throw their tied-up victim into the trunk of a 1974 Cadillac and head for the Hollywood Hills.
Once they reach the house, the rest of the group puts a crown of flowers on the new girl as they prepare her for the sacrificial ritual. The women chant and dance under the effects of LSD around the young victim. Suddenly the focus of the ritual is able to break free and shoots one of her captors.
Nobody breathes. The scene disrupts the participants more than any other hallucinogenic.
The story of this cult, devoted to day and night worship, is told in a photographic tale by Amy Nicole Hood in her book Cult Classic.
Hood and photographer Madison Kreiger are behind the editing process of this picture book about an occult group living in the Hollywood Hills, lost under the effects of LSD. It alludes to the aesthetic of the early seventies, when cults, sects, communes, and other groups with a taste for drugs, music, flowers, and mysticism of religion would gather and imitate secret societies of the Middle Ages.
The images capture the solace of femininity found through the performance of cathartic ceremonies. The explosion of sensuality, rhythm, and nature becomes a reflection of a society in turmoil and a quest to find the right answers instead of half truths.
It’s during this series that Amy Hood delves into occult iconography. But instead of stopping there, she captures a budding sexuality that was repressed at the start of the twentieth century, and even prior to that. It shows a cry for help through the return to the days of priestesses and nymphs.
The photographs contained in Cult Classic were created in 35 mm format to match the aesthetic of the seventies. This provides a sense of rebellion, nonconformity, freedom, and mysticism to the images without forgoing the feminine figure as a symbol of misunderstood divinity. It attempts to decipher whether these collectives wanted a closer relationship with the gods or a less conflictive society, which they could only reach through drugs, sex, music, and the natural world.
According to Amy Hood, this project harks back to the golden age of pornography and serves as a reminder of the era of the Manson family. It’s an exploration of the fantasy of voyeurism, the objectification of female empowerment, and the patriarchal dominion of society.
Cult Classic is also the first work from Viscous Publications. The first printing of the book only had 250 copies. Yet its success might come with a second widespread edition.
Amy Hood shows us how eroticism arises from provocation. It’s a suggestion to how sensuality and sexuality can become extensions of the self. The provocation present in the images, as lighting strikes of sensations and reactions, hits the audience with a force full of desire.
Translated by María Suárez