Natalia Mroz. ‘Pilgrimage’ is a series of images which explores ancient Orthodox Christian practices in Ethiopia.
‘Pilgrimage’ is a series of images that explores Orthodox Christian practices in Ethiopia. Although the country is modernising rapidly, ancient practices remain strong, particularly in the holy city of Lalibela and the Gheralta region, where ancient churches provide shelter and spiritual solace for thousands of pilgrims, monks and priests.
Over two hundred churches perch above the landscape of this region, carved out by hand from sheer rock cliffs in 6th century AD. Chisel marks are still clearly visible on the sandstone walls. Some are older still, remnants of a much older, pre-Christian sun cult.
I was drawn to people’s silent contemplation in these holy spaces – whether reading an ancient bible or chanting a prayer across the landscape. Their surroundings provide a source of inspiration for prayer, but at the same time, seem eclipsed by the pilgrim’s internal journey in which we as viewers cannot share. By photographing pilgrims, I wanted to show people’s firm belief, as well as the timelessness of the practices they engage in. Scenes like these have played out in Ethiopia since Christianity was first introduced in the 6th century AD.
Head On at 107 draws together 8 photographic artists. The series have been selected to sit together yet stand apart, representing different approaches. The curatorial process gives equal weight to each artist’s work and unifies the exhibition space. The artists collaborate on installation, promotion and social media, supporting each other through the process of exhibition.
Natalia is a photographer and content producer. For the last 15 years she has documented social and environmental issues for the United Nations, the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and various development and wildlife conservation NGO’s. Her work has taken her from her home in Australia to Central America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and, finally, Africa, where she was based for over ten years, firstly in Ethiopia then Kenya.
A former radio presenter and producer for SBS radio, Natalia studied media and communications at the University of NSW, where she specialised in journalism and audio-visual production.
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