The utopian communities that sprouted across the United States in the 19th century were built in an era of experimentation and optimism. Founded by religious leaders, philosophers and even business owners, isolationist groups like the Perfectionists of Oneida, New York, and the Harmonites of Ambridge, Pennsylvania, hoped to create places of peace in a rapidly industrializing America.
Inspired by this history, Italian photographer Marta Giaccone decided to find out the fate of these communities. Her photo series “Systems of Harmony” reveals present-day life in these former utopian communities.
In many towns, there is scant history left of their founders’ original hopes. A commemorative plaque stands in the center of only a few. “This simply shows that an idealized, perfect and safe land cannot exist, and the more one tries to protect it and make it inaccessible to alleged enemies, the more one will not succeed,” says Giaccone.