The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death
"The Nutshell dioramas are compelling, a bit disturbing, and engagingly weird—it never previously seemed possible to use the words 'forsenic' and 'cute' in the same sentence. Corinne May Botz has done a grand job both in exposing them to a nonspecialist public and in photographing them with such fanatical verisimilitude."
- Luc Sante
You can approach The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death in a variety or combination of ways: as a startlingly eccentric hobby; as a series of unresolved murder mysteries; as the manifestation of one woman's peculiar psychic life; as a lesson in forensics; as a metaphor for the fate of women; as a photographic study.
- Robert Gottlieb, The New York Observer
Botz makes the most of her material's tendency to seesaw between fact and fiction, believability and sham…Botz became so familiar with these tiny spaces that her pictures exude a homeyness all the more disconcerting when you notice the bloodstains on the rug and the body under the bedcovers. She hasn't just preserved Lee's meticulous mix of primness and voyeurism, she's given it a whole new life after death.
- Vince Aletti, The Village Voice
Corinne May Botz is the David Fincher of the Lee oeuvre. Her camera in The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death gets deep into the scene and renders the most upsetting images with a cold precision that matches the staging. These bits of cloth and plastic, sculpted and arranged with maniacal precision, make death at once childish and bleak. Blown up in Botz’s photos, the scenes radiate anxiety and menace. Dollhouse noir?
- David Bordwell
A haunting is a doorway into the private history of place. Such is the idea of Corinne May Botz's compelling collection of photographs (and accompanying oral narratives) from eighty allegedly haunted houses, which includes mostly private residences…Nineteenth-century spiritualists employed photography as a medium to the afterlife, and in her fine literary introduction Botz nods to this, explaining how she worked “in the Victorian tradition of female receptivity to the otherworldly.” But it isn’t foggy shapes that she’s out to capture, but something else unseen: a house’s own signs of being, and how a dwelling place merges with the worlds of its inhabitants, past and present.
- Kolby Yarnell, Bookforum
There is scope for even the most committed skeptic to enjoy Botz's book — if for no other reason than the eerily beautiful images, which seek to capture a sense of "haunted" spaces rather than images of spirits. However, there are plenty of chills, too: the book is a series of images, accompanied by oral histories of people who inhabit these haunted spaces — both famous and unknown.
- Sadie Stein, Jezebel
By giving us images of empty spaces, Botz allows the viewer to create their own version of the unseen…The houses photographed are for the most part firmly in the middle class, the homes of regular folks, underscoring the universality of the tales. Ask anyone if they have a family or personal ghost story and more often than not, they do.
- Andrea Janes, The Rumpus