Publicity: Balarama Lighter

Art director Gem Fletcher shows the work of Balarama Heller, a photographer whose work is rooted in the exploration of nature and spirituality, in vivid colors

Balarama Heller's photographs have a hypnagogic quality. The artist, who lives in New York, conjures up images of invisible worlds that let the viewer float in a visceral area that feels more like an unconscious state than something tangible. The photographs are like meditative secrets.

Heller had a nomadic upbringing and moved with his mother between the communities of Hare Krishna in the United States. The specific branch of Hinduism, imbued with transcendent rituals and elaborate mythology relating to demigods and heavenly battles, was just the beginning of a long fascination with spiritual practices. Heller later lived with Orthodox Christian monks in Romania, practiced with Sufis in Istanbul and spent time in various monasteries around the world.

"The form of spirituality I had an affinity for did not depend on geography, history or religion, but on the search for transcendent states outside the confines of the institution," he says. In Sacred Place, starting in 2019, he will trace the boundaries between the material and the spiritual world through a series of sensory encounters. Heller was made in the north Indian city of Vrindavan, a place of historical and spiritual importance for the Hare Krishna.

Above and above: from the Zero at the Bone series

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