An inter-continental tour into the spiritual world

“TranSpiRituals” by Vojtech Vlk at the Nikon Photo Gallery Prague

Photographer Vojtech Vlk’s exhibit, “TranSpiRituals,” at the Nikon Photo Gallery, explores our spiritual world through primitive religious rituals in contemporary times.

Vlk, born 1973, has journeyed across continents for two decades, photographing religious celebrations in the Philippines, Mexico, Spain, India, Israel, Ukraine, Austria, as well as in his home country, the Czech Republic. “TranSpiRituals” includes documentary and portraiture works in black and white from these travels.

Vlk’s portraits from Andalusia, Spain and Benares, India are centerpieces of the exhibit. These photos interconnect despite their striking differences. In Andalusia, Catholics wear black-hooded masks, keeping their traditions from the Middle Ages to celebrate the holy week—Semana Santa—with liturgical processions on the streets.

In the portraits from Benares, Indian men begin their rituals naked, bathing in the Ganges, and sometimes smoking marihuana to get to a transcendent state of mind.

There are also photos of crowds participating in religious ceremonies, and by placing these ‘in-motion’ images beside the portraits, Vlk creates a closer connection for the viewer, as if he or she were there at the time of its occurrence.

Vlk’s documentary series from the Philippines and Mexico showing ceremonies of the passion plays can be a little disturbing. Participants re-enact the whipping, the walk while carrying the cross, and the crucifixion. Also on the second floor, there are calmer images from Christmas Eve celebrations in Eastern Europe along with photos of Jewish rituals, a series of prayers, captured in motion, at the Wailing Wall.

The mood that is consistent throughout Vlk’s exhibit is rather dark, even depressing. His use of black and white images adds to the overall gloominess. However, by doing so he presents lesser-known religious rituals from a different perspective, and his powerful images create an unusual and unforgettable experience for the viewer.

This exhibition closes on 3rd of April and the Nikon Photo Gallery is located in Mala Strana. The entrance is free. 

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