Project 3: First Part – Amen, lol

F I N A L   I M A G E S


C O N C E P T   /   A R T I S T   S T A T E M E N T ( I S H )

Amen, lol is a photographic series birthed through me questioning my relationship with my religion. Through the creation of the pictures, I set out to explore what my Catholic faith is to me through the use of and/or reinterpretation of symbols and imagery from Catholicism/Christianity.



^Shot on Canon EOS 7D Mark II, aperture f/3.2, shutter speed 1/100, ISO 800, focal length 59 mm


^Shot on Canon EOS 7D Mark II, aperture f/5.6, shutter speed 1/60, ISO 1600, focal length 42 mm

^Shot on Canon EOS 7D Mark II, aperture f/7.1, shutter speed 1/20, ISO 1250, focal length 55 mm


I D E A T I O N   &   E X E C U T I O N

(Here comes the long part cos I just love to talk sometimes lmao so read if u wanna this is all super extra info and for personal reference)

Through the many weeks in class, we have been exposed to many inspiring artists and photographers. The ideation for this project started when Bryan asked us to borrow a book on a photographer’s specific works from the library. I didn’t have specific photographers in mind, and spent some time just browsing. I ended up with Christopher Anderson‘s SON, Nikki S. Lee‘s Projects, and Pierre et Gilles‘ Pierre et Gilles: Double Je, 1976-2007. I was inspired by Anderson’s use of light, Lee’s characters, and Pierre et Gilles’ style and elaborate mise en scene.


In terms of concept, I was deliberating on exploring family relationships, music, or the Jakartan food/visual culture, as I tend to lean towards more personal topics. However, I wasn’t so sure, and neither did I feel too inclined towards any. It was only when I thought about religion that I felt I could come up with something meaningful, and have fun in the process.

As someone who is in the midst of soul searching, there was a great fear in me to face this topic as it would mean that I would need to confront my original faith and my doubts about it. 

Watch the video above to get a glimpse behind Pierre et (and) Gilles’ workflow (and their dazzling abode)!! It’s really cool to see their extensive preparation documented in a video. From sketching and planning to props-buying; taking test shots; Pierre shooting; printing on a large canvas; applying varnish; Gilles using paint to deepen colours, add highlights and glitter; and finally adding and decorating the frame, which they regard as an extension of the canvas and serves to complete the piece!! So extra, so gaudy but so good??!!!

Ok so I was inspired to use Catholic symbols along with other funky materials. I thought that I could explore using man-made or flimsy, temporary (transient?) materials like plastic, foil, aluminium and paper to represent me making light of this ‘situation’, or how silly religion feels to the logical me, who recently realised that I had been believing in the religion blindly my whole life.

But r e a l l y, at the same time, I’m questioning the authenticity of my faith – when I had it. I said I believed, and I genuinely meant it, but looking back I didn’t understand shit about Jesus, Catholicism, religion, or life even!?!? So, what was it that I believed in???

After some sketching and brainstorming I chose 3 ideas to try to pull off.

Here’s the story behind the pictures:


One of the first images that came to mind. There’s something about close-ups of body parts that is equally creepy, disgusting, yet intimate and emotional at the same time. The image of the cross against the tongue/mouth (it tasted ew), to me, primarily symbolises the act of consuming the religion. It also parallels the act of receiving the body of Christ, as you would at the end of a Catholic mass where the congregation would line up to accept communion. A piece of unleavened bread similar to a wafer (not that I know cos I’m not allowed to take it yet), called the host (also called hostia, sacramental bread, communion wafers??? lol), symbolises the body of Christ. You take it as part of a sacrament called the Eucharist.


“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food, and my blood is real drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:53–58)

Immortal bread? Dang. Not immortal in the physical sense though – mind you. Honestly I am finding out so much about the host and the communion by trying to write this and realising I don’t know jack shit and researching and realising that I was only participating cos apparently that’s just what you do in church.

The image is altered such that it looks almost perfect, shining – exactly how spotless and easy I hope believing in a religion was to me.


Pretty simple. The main items are the Bible and the candles. The Bible represents my faith and the candles represent my devotion. Candles are widely used in my experience as a Catholic. In my family, we would light candles up in prayer. Often we would say our names when setting the candle up. It symbolises our presence.

At the same time, candles can also represent the passing of time, and them melting into a messy puddle shows negligence – in an almost poetic manner.

Together, through this image, I tried to illustrate my investment in devotion and prayer without paying attention to understanding the religion itself. The Bible is untouched, unread, its pages sealed by the wax dripping over, ironically because I was spending so much time praying, to a God I claimed to know.

Main idea first came when I was watching this music video by Cuco.

Screenshot from Cuco’s “Keeping Tabs (ft. Suscat0)” music video directed by Cirqua

A pretty simple representation of the devil – but somehow I was really interested in the use of body paint after seeing this. I wanted to use body paint!!! I was thinking of using other colours – but there were too many other connotations / possible misinterpretation. Blue – Smurfs, Krishna; Yellow – yellowface; Black – blackface; Green – Hulk, etc. Hence, I stuck to red – it’s a strong, impactful colour, and can have many interpretations.

After reading up on flower language in Catholicism, I settled on using the most basic, significant flower – the white Lily. It symbolises “Mary’s Immaculate Purity”. I went to the flower market with the intention of getting fresh lilies and baby’s breath, or other pretty flowers. However, after seeing the plastic lilies vs the fresh lilies, it struck me how so much prettier and convenient the plastic ones are. I thought it was apt to represent my faith – how fake it is.

Actual devotion would be like handling actual flowers – you need to take care of them, trim the leaves, put them in water, add flower food, wait for them to bloom, and even then you wouldn’t know whether it would bloom nicely. Not two flowers are the same. Yet, with the plastic ones, they look great, are permanent, and need no upkeep.

At the same time, the red hand represents my vices, my other side, or my true self. I tried a few different hand positions, but I felt that the simplest one spoke the most and its ambiguity leaves room for interpretation. I thought the middle finger was funny, but this position where the hand seems to be just reaching in, relaxed, maybe about to touch the flower, I thought was so soft yet the colours make it striking. You can’t decide whether the hand is invading the space, about to taint the apparent purity of the flowers, or does the hand actually coexist with the lilies?

It’s challenging to confront the reality of why I’m on the edge of my faith… and the results often make me, and maybe some viewers, uncomfortable, but I think it’s a good reaction.

Overall, I’m having a lot of fun.. and also learning about my religion. HAHA looking forward to completing the rest of the photo series. Also watching American Horror Story (“watching it for class”) and I’m loving it!