27th June – 15th July
In June this year, Beetles + Huxley Gallery will present two new series of works, ‘Confessionals’ and ‘Abruzzo’ by internationally acclaimed photographer Michael Kenna. ‘Confessionals’ is a departure from the landscape work for which Kenna has become known and is the culmination of over 10-years work, travelling through Reggio Emilia, a city in northern Italy, to document hundreds of Catholic confessional booths. These will be shown alongside new photographs of the Abruzzo landscape from his new book, published by Nazraeli Press.
‘Confessionals’ is a typology of confessional booths from a distinct geographical region, documenting booths from the 13th century to the present. Shot in black and white, each booth is uniformly the focal point of each image, framed by the details of the church interior which happen to be in shot albeit a crucifix, pillar or ladder offering small clues as to the church’s architecture and context in which the booth is placed.
Kenna’s careful composition of the booths symbolises what he continues to search for in his photography, ‘the invisible with the visible, the intangible contained with the tangible, the illusion of reality’. Kenna is not interested in documenting man’s physical presence, but rather the traces that he has left behind and he believes Confessionals to be containers of memories and hidden secrets . Each photograph displays immaculate detail and continues ongoing fascination with capturing memories and stories, viewing the booths as containers of memory and hidden secrets.
This series is greatly influenced by Kenna’s religious upbringing. As a child, each week he would visit the dark confessional box in his local church of St Bede’s, Widnes and confess his sins to the local priest. Kenna recalls, ‘I would feel greatly relieved leaving the church – I was never sure if it was because I was forgiven, or because I didn’t have to go through the ritual again for at least another week.’
Alongside the ‘Confessionals’ works, Beetles + Huxley will also exhibit a series of landscapes from the Italian region of Abruzzo. In some places, the land is exceedingly wild and mountainous, whereas in others, it is quite domestic and pastoral. Hilltowns, castles and churches proliferate the landscape. The works come from Kenna’s new publication, published by Nazraeli Press 2017.