The question, What is real? has been asked about photography since its invention, but Dominic Hawgood asks it again today in intriguing and fresh ways. His new project, called Under the Influence, explores the rituals of Christian worship in evangelical African churches around London, including exorcisms conducted via live satellite sermons, then broadcasted on giant screens.
Hawgood won this year’s British Journal of Photography’s international prize for best series, which is now on show at TJ Boulting in London. Unlike a documentary photographer, he has little interest in locations, or the cultural contexts in which religious practices flourish. His curiosity lies in ambiguities: the border between the real and the supernatural, photographic fact and fiction. “I want people to think about what is being presented to them,” he said on winning the award, “and to ask questions: where were these images taken? Is this a studio setup or a documentation of real life? I want people to make up their own minds.”