The unavoidable physicality of religion captured by Anna Shimshak.
American photographer and Yale School of Art MFA candidate Anna Shimshak has shot a number of Catholic institutions across the globe in her latest project, aptly titled The Religious.
Spanning three years, Shimshak’s series explores the relationship between spirituality and the human form, by documenting one of the oldest religions in the world. Starting in 2012, she documented American religious sites and people, shooting in Wisconsin, El Paso and Connecticut. From there she journeyed through Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Poland, all the way to Bangalore in India.
Rather than highlighting the doctrines of Catholicism itself, and its views on an “eternal heavenly existence,” her work draws on an exposition of the body in a behind-the-scenes approach. Shimshak says that her documentary style shows “the unavoidable physicality of the temporal, corporeal existence and its affects on the individual psychology and concept of self.”
The images of clergymen and avowed religious women convey a raw and true beauty that doesn’t involve mimicking an authentic representation of the Church as such, but rather, they “act as fictionalized metaphors”.
From infants being baptised through to elderly women praying, Shimshak’s colourful images portray extremely recognisable religious practices that have been stripped back to reveal individual identities.