Holy Land

In 1977, while driving through Connecticut, I saw a cross lit up on a hill. It was ten years later that I made my first pilgrimage to the place where it stood: Holy Land USA in Waterbury. What I discovered was an 18-acre tract of land devoted to a small-scale, homemade reproduction of Bethlehem. Filled with objects that a pop artist would find irresistible, it was crude, sweet, and strange in ways that make familiar things exotic. At the same time, it had a peculiar and disquieting sense of spirituality that was impossible to dismiss. Holy Land has changed since then, falling into a state of elegant disrepair that only heightens its incongruity. Photographing it today is much like embarking on an archeological dig in a place I’ve watched gradually slip away.