Sacred Pain
Profound Pleasures

“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to
annihilation can that which is indestructible in us be found.”
-Pema Chödrön

Photographer Angie Keller has invited the viewer on a pilgrimage that is as much a cultural odyssey as it is a personal one. In documenting the religious pilgrimages of Peru, where thousands of people embark on a journey of suffering hoping to transcend their earthly existence for greater spiritual rewards and enlightenment, we find that Keller is on a personal quest as well.

As the cultural historian John Berger wrote,” the way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe.” This is true of Keller’s photography. Peruvian by birth, she has lived most of her adult life in the United States. This has given her the rare ability to navigate two worlds. Keller brings both an outsider’s clarity and her native born intimacy to the documentation of the rich emotional mix of Peruvian religious life. A predominately Catholic country for more than four and a half centuries, religion in modern day Peru is very much a part of daily life.

While Keller captures the faithful in their pilgrimage for enlightenment, she is on her own journey of discovery as a photographer and as an individual exploring her faith. As with many of the pilgrims these journeys are about transformation. Penance and sacrifice, power and submission, pain and transcendence—these are what the pilgrims experience and what Keller captures in her powerful photographs.

Alfred Stieglitz, a photographer and founder of Camera Work magazine wrote, “in my opinion the most difficult problem in photography is to learn to see.” Angie Keller has mastered the art of seeing and now her images are teaching the rest of us to see and experience a world very different from our own.

Deborah Klochko
Museum of Photographic Arts
San Diego, California