Purgatory by Alexis Gerard

The Roman Catholic Church defines Purgatory as “a state in which the souls of those who have died in grace must expiate their sins”. In other words these souls are spared the fires of hell, but they are excluded from Paradise.

What resonates with me about this notion is not the need for expiation, but rather the concept of a place that is neither here nor there; a place that, in effect, is nowhere. Similarly the spaces in these images are ones that we only occupy in transit, no one stays or truly “inhabits” them. As Llorenç Rosanes puts it, these spaces are “lacking in emotion and memory”.

When people are not occupying them for the transitory purposes they’re designed for, they feel as though energy has stopped radiating in and from them, as though time there has slowly ground to a halt and congealed altogether.

11-13-09 (Purgatory -6)

11-12-09 (Purgatory -4)
11-12-09 (Purgatory -5)

Part of Alexis’ continuing “Purgatory” series. 

Aamora member Alexis Gerard co-authored Going Visual, founded Future Image and 6Sight® & is a member of the International Advisory Council of the George Eastman House. View his Flickr photostream or his aamora contributions.

15 thoughts on “Purgatory by Alexis Gerard”

  1. You explained the idea perfectly with these shots…and you’re so right about “spaces lacking in emotion and memory”. There’s a sense of lonelinesshere, and it’s what you really feel in such places.

  2. Brilliant! I am immediately reminded of Dante’s Inferno!

    Canto IV: First Circle
    Dark, profound it was, and cloudy, so that though I fixed my sight on the bottom I did not discern anything there.
    …I come into a region where is nothing that can give light.

  3. Alexis, I applaud you on on this exquisite and disturbing tribute to nothingness – a time capsule of emptyness. Repeatedly, I look at these images, I have no words, but feel the impact to my core.

    This is a brilliant series.

  4. Alexis, I have looked at these series many times, but I was and am actually speechless, though they convey so very to the point (and yet in your unique way of seeing and understanding) the meaning of “purgatory” in a vast and thoroughly modern sense… Simplemente magnífica!

    P.S. And hey, what’s that dude saying, about that machine having snorted half of Peru?

  5. Dude! Things go better with Coke and that machine looks like it snorted half of Peru. Far out, man. And the musical chairs look like they were spinning one of those Coke bottles and things got a little out of hand. And the two glasses look to be just chillin’ ya know, like takin’ it all in ya know. Dude! Is this Purgatory a town in southern Cali? Man, I think I drove through there while on a LSD trip back in the day.

    Anyway, man, far out, man. Later, dude.

  6. If they have nice carpets and ice cold Coke in purgatory, book me a one way ticket! Your shots are intriguing, Mr Gerard, and I would be interested in doing a critique sometime should you ever be interested in learning a few things about photography.

  7. Top class, Alexis, I believe that you have found your way. Just my opinion but here you have an interminable lode, with million different readings.
    I have another text, shorter than the previous one and that will be more useful for you. Soon I sent it to you.
    Congrats for the series.

  8. Alexis, each shot reminds of the time I spent as Banquette Porter at the downtown Holiday Inn in Winnipeg, Canada. I thought the job was Hell, but as you correctly point out, I was actually in Purgatory – wonderful series.

  9. A really great series Alexis and i like the thinking behind it. Your images really convey that sense of nothingness and emptiness that I find rather disturbing but aesthetically pleasing!!

  10. I love the Coke machine.
    With the title of the series, it conjures up thoughts of it sitting there waiting, perhaps ready to pounce….

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