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PORTFOLIO

28.11.2014

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Religion moves the masses. Religious traditions have survived through the centuries thanks to common values expressed through rituals and symbols. In his project, The Believers, photographer Jordi Pizarro tries to fathom what it is that strengthens people in their faith, and how they find support in their religion.

This long-term project has already taken Pizarro to ten countries in four continents. In addition to the particularities of larger denominations, the photographer also tries to understand religious minorities and their rituals.

For the Polish Orthodox community in Poland, Grabarka is one of the country's most important centres of devotion. Built on a holy hill in the 19th century, and rebuilt in its original form after burning to the ground twenty years ago, the Orthodox Grabarka Monastery is today surrounded by a sea of wooden crosses.

According to legend, the region suffered a serious cholera epidemic during the 18th century, resulting in one hundred thousand casualties. A vision received by one villager, however, is supposed to have protected some people from the epidemic. Believing they could survive the disease by just carrying a wooden cross to the top of certain hill, a small group of people set out to do just that. After climbing to the top, they placed their crosses on the spot where the monastery is now located and drank from a nearby spring. Though they came from an area at the heart of the epidemic, none of these believers succumbed to cholera.

Both the place and the spring are now a centre of holy pilgrimage, visited by thousands every year, with some people climbing the hill on their knees. Even today, pilgrims leave their wooden crosses behind close to the monastery, convinced that they have, in this manner, fulfilled their religious obligations. This has resulted in a veritable jungle of wooden crosses growing up over the centuries – including, it is said, the very first ones left by those fleeing the cholera epidemic.
Photographer Kiên Hoàng Lê (Middle) in the Suna no Shiro bar

Jordi Pizarro

Born in Barcelona in 1985, Pizarro lives today in New Delhi, India. In addition to his own, personal projects, the Spaniard focusses on photographic reports from South East Asia. His work has been published around the world in such magazines and newspapers as TIME, The Sunday Times Magazine, Forbes and El País. Pizarro is represented by the Italian Contrasto Photo Agency.

www.jordipizarro.com
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