Congregation by Sophie Green is a celebration of Southwark’s Aladura Spiritualist African churches and congregations. Often referred to as “white garment” churches, Green’s images engage with 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 colourfully fill the hidden, often industrial spaces that churches inhabit. Green also engages directly with individuals through collaborative, 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 stylised portraits highlight the performance of identity and communality that underpins religious practice.
Sophie Green (b. 1991) is a British social documentary & portrait photographer. Her work often explores communities drawn together by mutual circumstance, and the glue that unites these individuals together as a collective, including Afro hair salons, banger & stock car racing and Traveller groups. Green recently won the Creative Review Zeitgeist 2018 award and was selected for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2018. She has photographed for Time Magazine, the Financial Times, the Guardian, Vogue and many more. Congregation is her second book.
Congregation is published and designed by Loose Joints, an artist-run publisher and design studio exploring progressive approaches to image making in book form. It was founded in London in 2015 by Sarah Piegay Espenon and Lewis Chaplin.
All images © Sophie Green 2019 courtesy Loose Joints