What does it imply to be a real believer? The Colombian photographer, Juan Cristobal Cobo, examined the idea of Catholicism in his homeland and captured spectacular snapshots of non secular believers. Whereas questioning the significance of faith for the folks of a strongly Catholic nation, he didn’t all the time discover clear solutions; the photographs he produced, nonetheless, bear witness to an unlimited symbolic energy.
When and the place did you’re taking the photographs?
I took these images between 2017 and 2018 within the Colombian cities of Bogotá and Cali.
What fascinates you about non secular rituals?
As a photographer, I’m drawn to the rites, rituals, and icons of non secular establishments. They’re very seductive from an aesthetic perspective. I can spend hours observing representations of Christ on the Cross or the ache of Mary Magdalene; however as an agnostic I can’t comprehend the that means of religion or the expertise of an emotional connection to God. I can solely think about what it means to be a real believer. I wish to use pictures to try to bridge the hole between the emotional and the aesthetic components of Catholicism. I need my digicam to discover the long-lasting symbols of faith and the individuals who worship them, with a view to higher perceive the ideas of guilt, forgiveness, struggling and redemption, that happen not solely inside our cathedrals however on the streets as effectively. I wish to draw similarities between non secular imagery, each violent and ethereal, and the parishioners who come to wish, to admit, to atone for his or her sins. Do these folks expertise the struggling and redemption of non secular martyrs in their very own flesh?
What significance does Christianity have in Colombia?
Colombia has probably the most deeply-rooted traditions of the Roman Catholic religion in Latin America: greater than eighty % of Colombia is Catholic; nonetheless, additionally it is probably the most violent international locations on the planet. Based on the World Values Survey essentially the most non secular international locations are additionally essentially the most violent ones, and Colombia has a protracted historical past of bloody battle. Each the aggressors and their victims pray to the identical God: the primary to hunt safety earlier than committing their crimes; the latter to hunt solace for his or her ache. So why does a rustic, the place Catholicism is such a dominant pressure in society, nonetheless undergo from the persistent wounds of battle – wounds that resist therapeutic and portend an unsure future?
A person prays in silence behind a barricade on the Divine Baby Parish Sanctuary, per week earlier than Palm Sunday. This place is among the most visited by the devoted, and with near one million anticipated throughout Holy Week, the parish has been making ready to create space to welcome all of them
Your photos hardly ever present faces. Individuals are a part of the surroundings that surrounds them. What’s the thought behind this photographic strategy? Is there one thing you wish to evoke within the viewer?
I don’t assume this was a premeditated alternative; however as typically occurs with my work, after some time some themes and stylistic decisions begin to emerge, through the capturing and through the enhancing. On this case, I believe that not seeing recognizable faces of individuals provides to the thriller that faith is to me.
Have been you in search of something specifically as a part of this mission, or did you simply float?
I normally begin from instinct, exploring a topic that pulls my consideration, after which begin to work with as a lot frequency as I can. That’s when the themes and sub-themes begin to seem and I simply observe that circulate. I labored on this mission throughout Holy Week for 2 consecutive years; but additionally went on to doc Pope Francis’s go to to Colombia, and to spend some Sundays at a really massive and highly regarded parish in Bogotá.
How did you discover the protagonists in your photos?
It wasn’t troublesome: I simply went to the varied locations through the occasions after they congregate.
Through which approach did the Leica cameras assist to perform your objectives?
I used each the Q and the M for this mission. Each cameras have the capability to be very discreet and quiet, which was essential once I was photographing inside church buildings. The tools allowed me to stay respectful of the folks I used to be photographing.
What does this mission imply for you, personally? May you study something from it?
I labored on this mission utilizing my secular instinct to confront my very own fears and questions on faith, trying on the believers, their rituals and relics. In the long run it raised extra questions than solutions, and I’m okay with that.
Usually talking, what’s your strategy when in search of new subjects?
Curiosity. Curiosity all the time drives my work, and it doesn’t all the time want to finish up being a mission. I get attracted by folks, by the sunshine and by locations, and typically, whereas pursuing that, I would stumble throughout and observe a thread that will or could not change into a mission.
Juan Cristóbal Cobo was born in Colombia and moved to New York as a teen. His earliest ardour centred round movie making, however after a few years as a cinematographer and industrial director, he discovered himself strongly drawn to the artwork of pictures. As an autodidact, he brings his years of information to the nonetheless picture, combining his understanding of sunshine and composition with a ardour for the story. Cobo is deeply curious concerning the folks round him, and stays inquisitive about himself and his personal feelings: he tries to attach these to his footage. Cobo’s work has been featured in Nationwide Geographic, The New York Instances, The Washington Submit, Bloomberg Businessweek, Science Journal, Artwork Journal, Leica Fotografie Worldwide, New Yorker Photograph, L’œil de la Photographie, The Floor Reality Mission, amongst others. He’s a everlasting contributor to Nationwide Geographic Traveler. In September 2021 he revealed his first photograph ebook, La luz opaca. Discover out extra about his pictures on his web site and Instagram channel.