First Sweet Truth

Work in progress.

"And whosoever will enter into this deep Mystery 
must needs have good eyes."

– Angela da Foligno, c. 1298

During the Middle Ages, a proliferation of women recorded experiencing spiritual visions. Though often characterized as inherent female emotionalism or purely a response to sexual repression – “a paltry record of sickly compliments and semi-erotic endearments,” as William James describes – these women challenged the dominant epistemology and basis for authority in their time. Often centered around the body, blood, heart, and wounds of Christ, their visionary experiences insisted on direct, first-hand access to God through an affective form of perception.

These women – among them Catherine of Siena, Gertrude of Helfta, Angela da Foligno, to name a few – forced the question of how truth is attained, perceived, and evaluated. Can truth not merely be grasped intellectually, but rather touched, felt, and, especially, seen? If so, how does this bear on the possibility of belief in an age of skepticism? And, moreover, what does it mean to read these women’s visions now, when women’s testimonies are more often than not discredited?

With a camera – the very apparatus which is so often believed to contain evidence of truth – I respond to these visionary writings by making photographs. Like no other medium, photography calls into question our vision – what is seen, what is real, and what is imagined. Rather than attempting the insurmountable task of recreating these visions, I aim my camera towards recreating the belief in them, and in doing so, acknowledge my own desire for belief in a truth that can be seen.

Using Format