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Photo 1

Michael Poster

A photo from the exhibit, “Love, Labor, Worship: The People of Basin Farm,” now on display at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center.

The Arts

Photographer Michael Poster discusses his work with Twelve Tribes community at BMAC

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BRATTLEBORO—Photographer Michael Poster spent three years documenting the daily lives of the people of Basin Farm, a Twelve Tribes community in Bellows Falls.

The result of Poster’s work is an exhibit, on view at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) through May 3, entitled “Love, Labor, Worship: The People of Basin Farm.”

Poster will give a talk about the exhibit and his experience working with the people of Basin Farm at BMAC on Thursday, April 2, at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

The people of Basin Farm grow organic produce, bake bread, make yogurt, work with wood, raise children, and worship Yahshua, their Messiah and master.

According to BMAC chief curator Mara Williams, the fact that Poster gained the trust of the community “is a testament to the gentleness of his nature and the authenticity of his approach. After a time, his comings and goings were woven into the fabric of the farm. Because he effectively disappeared, his subjects did not self-consciously pose for the camera. It allowed the production of a remarkable body of work.”

That body of work includes 42 photos on view at BMAC, accompanied by a written narrative by Poster.

Poster has written, “There is plenty to read in online news archives about the Twelve Tribes; some stories focus on controversial incidents involving alleged child abuse and child labor violations. Other negative reports describe a misogynist, homophobic, and racist ideology...

“I can’t tell you that what you might read about the Twelve Tribes is true or false, and in making pictures at Basin Farm, my aim was not to document or pass judgment on their religious beliefs.

“I can say that their passion for living simply, their devotion to the land, and their love for one another inspires me, and that the pictures I made at the farm are true; they are what I saw.“

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Originally published in The Commons issue #299 (Wednesday, April 1, 2015). This story appeared on page B3.

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