Paul Osman

2011 - 2015

The Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation is not exclusive to Catholicism; it is practised in many other religions (Judaism, Buddhism, Islam). However, it is most universally recognised in the form of the physical structure or space of a confessional booth.

In the beginnings of the Catholic Church, many people, as a free act of faith, chose to publicly confess their sins, and it was not until the 11th century that confession, as we understand it today, began to take place. In 1215, The Fourth Council of Lateran made it law that every Catholic must go to confession at least once a year. This could still be interpreted as either public or private vocalisation of penance, and it was not until the counter-reformation of the 16th century that confession went from being a social public experience to a private individual one. From then on it would only take place in private in a confessional.

In current times we cannot be sure how many people still practice this Sacrament, and depending on what priest you talk to and in which parish, the act of confession is either on the rise or in decline.

This series of images invites an examination of the ritualised and triangular transaction of guilt, repentance and absolution that occurs within the space.

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