Karen Bullock is a young documentary photographer from Alabama, USA. She has produced a body of work called Presence Obscured (George, 2020) which explores the changing nature of Christianity and faith in the south of America, and her own experiences within that setting. She says ‘Through these photographs, I share what I perceive as an ethereal sense of presence alongside themes of longing and loss. They are an open-ended offering to the viewer to ponder experiences of faith which sometimes arise in our lives, especially in the midst of trauma or crises such as the world is enduring now.’ Bullock made the images to after a severe personal difficulty and found that they helped her to cope.
The images show buildings, old churches (inside and out), abandoned statues, and religious icons. There are no people, just the traces left behind. It asks is faith still active, or has it long gone? Where is it now in people’s lives? The colours are vibrant even though the subject is occasionally sad. The lack of people is poignant. It asks another question – if she went back tomorrow would there be someone there – or not?
Bullock’s use of absence lends strength to the work. It talks about the forgotten things, the things that may, or may not, have lost importance. People would dilute the message. It tells me about a life that is strange to me – I live in the cold and austere north. The colours are different. The story is similar.
George, D. (2020) Karen Bullock: Presence Obscured. At: http://lenscratch.com/2020/07/karen-bullock-presence-obscured/ (Accessed 08/07/2020).