Within the narrative of art and popular culture, the individual identity in Catholicism is subjugated to the larger doctrinal presence of the Church as an institution. Rather than understanding Catholicism in the grander context of its tenets, as expressed through a preexisting visual iconographic vocabulary, “The Religious” explores the development of identity of the individual by isolating it from the formality of the religious institution.
Rather than emphasizing the importance of the eternal heavenly existence in Catholicism, these photographs explore the body in its present manifestation – the unavoidable physicality of the temporal, corporeal existence and its affects on the individual psychology and concept of self.
While the mimesis of photography appears to present a truth, truth in religion, as in photography, is a transient reality that is subject to constant reinterpretation and subjectivity that shifts and evolves with time and place. These images lay no claim to presenting a documentary truth. Instead, these gestural renderings transcend the mimetic representation of the subject and act as fictionalized metaphors that derive their authenticity from the identity of the subjects rather than the reality of their actions.
Anna Shimshak is an American born photographer. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University in 2013. She is currently a first year MFA student in photography at the Yale School of Art and resides in New Haven, Connecticut. You can see more of her work at her website.