Sophie Green's Photographs of Spiritualist African Churches in London
Sophie Green's series Congregation celebrates Southwark's Aladura Spiritualist African churches and congregations. "Often referred to as 'white garment' churches, my images engage with these rarely documented dynamic communities who unite each weekend for Sunday service."
Aladura is a denomination of Christianity predominantly practiced by Yoruba Nigerians, and in the last 40 years has become a ubiquitous part of London life – particularly in Southwark, which has the highest concentration of African churches outside the continent. Congregation observes a rich tapestry of worshippers and Sunday services, which are spoken in Yoruba and form a key social meeting point and place of cultural solidarity between African Londoners.
Congregation asks questions about how individuals find collective identity and power within subcultures, and how cultural practice is assimilated into modern global contexts: traditional dress, food and customs rub up against modern technology and fashion, while devotional interiors colorfully fill the hidden, often industrial space that churches inhabit.
My images engage directly with individuals through collaboration, posed portrait sessions and photographic workshops which serve to empower and engage with members of each congregation and their faith. Mixed in with naturalistic images of men, women and children, these stylized portraits highlight the performance of identity and communality that underpins religious practice.