In 1990 photographer Carl de Keyzer rented a van and drove all across the United States. Several years earlier he had created projects in India and produced Homo Sovieticus in the former Soviet Union. This time de Keyzer became fascinated by the importance of religion in America. More specifically, he saw a trend where God was used as a product in the American market.
During his travels de Keyzer kept a diary where he wrote about the different religious communities he encountered. In preparation of his journey he had written to six hundred organizations out of the existing 3,500 nationwide. In one of his diary entries he writes that “one of the nicest answers I received was surely that of Mother Divine” who “kindly invited [him] to join the consecration’ and dedication of the Woodmont estate ~ as House -of the Lord […].”
Carl de Keyzer, The Father and Mother Divine Peace Movement, Holy Communion Banquet at the Circle Mission Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 1990 (44.1995)
As a photographer de Keyzer likes to use irony in his work -in part because he doesn’t take himself too seriously. At the same time it alleviates the subject of religion in people’s life.
Carl de Keyzer, The Living Christmas Tree, The Calvary Baptist Temple, Savannah, George, December 1990 (42.1995)
“[…] several large churches have living Christmas trees with up to 300 choir members as Christmas events. Special services, concerts and Christmas pageants depicting the birth of Jesus are held one or two weeks before Christmas. Sometimes even two (twin) trees are installed for special sound effects.”
Carl de Keyzer, The Father and Mother Divine Peace Movement, Holy Communion Banquet in Divine Tracey Hotel, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 1990 (51.1995)
Carl de Keyzer, The Father and Mother Divine Peace Movement, Holy Communion Banquet in Divine Tracey Hotel, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 1990 (46.1995)
In 1990 the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund awarded Carl de Keyzer an award for God Inc. He continues to work on prolonged subjects. Most recently he published work about life in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, known as North Korea. De Keyzer has been a member of Magnum Photos since 1994.