Askesis: Images of Contemporary Asceticism

Frank Geiser Xavier University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Suzanne Chouteau Xavier University
My project, titled “Askesis” is an ongoing photographic exploration of contemporary asceticism documenting the daily lives of those living within ascetic traditions. Askesis is the Greek word from which we get the English word “Asceticism.” It originally referred to the exercise or training a warrior does to strengthen her/his body. Breaking down the body gives it the chance to grow stronger. Contemporary asceticism can be understood in a similar manner: Rather than understanding the phenomena of asceticism as the process of shunning an external world, ascetics live in a way designed to fully engage with impactful aspects of their life, excluding action unrelated to mystical or salvific importance. My project is related to, and continuing the work of, Sebastiao Salgado’s recent photographic series “Genesis.” The social documentary photographer’s project saw a shift in emphasis away from the raw portrayal of the harms stemming from global industry and greed towards an attempt to portray the parts of our earth which are untouched by it. As such, Salgado’s work is a rejection of human social weaknesses. He finds an answer to injustices present in his previous work by asserting the importance of connecting to nature on a global scale. “Genesis” provides the imagery for beginning to disassemble the narrative of unfettered global consumption. “Askesis” provides a working method for the continuation of this idea by attempting to portray the compelling aspects of simplicity, mindfulness, and a search for mystical truth in contrast to narratives present in consumerist cultures.
Art/Art History
Oral Presentation

When & Where

02:30 PM
Lilly Hall 133