The Silence of Spaces: Portraits that explore the connection between religion, gender and body

Votive Portrait (Prayer Closet). All images courtesy of Lissa Rivera

In her latest series, The Silence of Spaces, New York photographer Lissa Rivera explores the inescapable connections between religious faith, gender, and body.

The photographs are set in an isolated religious building that has been home to multiple belief systems, with layers of history as palpable as its peeling layers of paint.

Constructed as a male-only Catholic seminary, it has also been, at various times, a public junior high school, an "alternative" medicine resort, and the centre of an evangelical ministry dedicated to promoting sexual purity for adolescent girls.

Lissa's portraits of herself and her partner BJ build on her previous series, Beautiful Boy, an investigation of feminine imagery from across the history of photography and cinema.

"Set in a series of ambiguous, often charged spaces that betray a multiplicity of pasts, the photographs explore the tension between the inherent shame that surrounds women’s bodies in our culture," explains Lissa, "the literal deification of masculinity that frequently accompanies it, and the beauty and surprising androgyny of much religious imagery."

Golden Lamentation

Golden Lamentation

Uniform

Uniform

Transference (Green Classroom)

Transference (Green Classroom)

Pink Attic

Pink Attic

Court

Court

Attic Dormitory (Walking)

Attic Dormitory (Walking)

Yellow Classroom (Desire)

Yellow Classroom (Desire)