Keeping secrets: True Confessionals – Photo series by Marcella Hackbardt
Shot in Rome, Hackbardt’s series True Confessional captures brilliantly the mystery and power of the confessional, as well as its potential to contain stories within its often brilliantly carved, ornate doors.
This photo series renders the strangeness and eroticism associated with the confessional, which incorporates features of other spaces designed hold or contain the irregular, unsanctioned and ‘impure’. Enclosed and shut off from the outside, the confessional is frequently dimly lit, drapes or mesh separate the confessor and the priest. And it is dark, foreboding – gothic. A strange little closet for holding revelations of transgression. Not dissimilar in many ways to other secret spaces like the boudoir and the bathroom.
Each image in this series allows the viewer to look in close at the space from which we’d ordinarily politely avert our gaze. And though the creator of the images herself keeps an impartial but still curious distance, the metaphor of secret spaces resonates with political force within the context of condemnation against the Catholic church for its broad institutional and at times unethical secrecy.
True Confessionals leaves the viewer at the core of an intense paradox: although the exterior of the confessionals is revealed in exquisite detail, the interiors remain only partially visible. This evokes the imagination and leaves room for the viewer to insert their own subjective visions of the unspeakable.