Mathētēs (μαθητὴς)

Jessica Wood - Thoughts & Reflections 

(math-ay-tes’)

Noun.

Origin: Ancient Greek 

  1. a learner, a pupil

  2. someone who accepts and assists in the spread of a purpose or message

  3. someone who choses to listen, follow and do as their teacher instructs

 

In this series Boaz’s technique of capturing intimate portraits is expanded and now encompasses all aspects of life; documenting transitions from mundane into spiritual.

 

Following on from his series Our Father which documented monastic life within Britain, Mathētēs acts as a visual meditation on the themes of faith, friendship and community. In Mathētēs you will find an answer to the question: what does it mean to be disciple of Jesus in the modern day and what does it look like for young men to live together with a common purpose?

Each photo brings your attention to light; it bounces off eyes and walls, curtains glow with it and even in its absence, the shadows it leaves behind convey the stillness of each moment. The series opens with light emitting across rooms, exposing the inner workings of this home and the individuals within it and is used to invoke the spiritual connections people of faith have with light. It’s is considered a mode of revealing truth, exposing individuals and pointing towards something higher. 

Mathētēs takes us through a series of gentle transitions of the body. Bodies that rest, laugh or sleep can suddenly contort and spring into action. Friends in one moment relax and watch something occur on a screen, then in another curve shift into a bowed prayer, or stretch out their hands in a moment of praise. In one image they kneel together on the floor and surround one individual in the centre, pressing hands onto his back. Through this, Boaz invites viewers into a very private display of intimacy and connection between them.

In another transition, several photos show individuals sitting or kneeling with their hands pressed together. This simple act culminates in a final photo of a small prayer card leaning against a window which contains a depiction of Jesus. The reason for all their movements and actions in the series can be explained in this passage, where Jesus calls some unexpected people to follow him: 

 

‘…casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.’ - Matthew 18-20.

In accordance with this verse, Mathētēs reveals the attempts of these young men to follow Jesus in their modern day context and get closer to God in the process. Life as it is documented by Boaz does not stray too far from this home and yet each individuals attention is always pressed somewhere else. Either in a book, at a screen, gazing beyond the window, closed in sleep or prayer. 

 

The mis-matched furniture and sparse rooms suggests that this was a period of temporary and transient living. But rather than the chaotic nature of living together as in youth or university, in this series it unfolds as an intentional and purposeful act. The precision of individuals and their bodies indicates that those who lived in this space did so with thoughtful care for each other.

 

Considering this home as a training ground for discipleship, the photographs that Boaz captured allow us some insight into an individually designed right of passage, transitioning these young men from one stage of life into another.

 

- Jessica Louise Wood 

Instagram: @jessicalouisewood

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