I am late to Billie Mandle’s talk on photography. I hate being late and I’m dreading the few seconds when I open the door and it feels like everyone’s eyes are on me. There are no open seats in the cramped classroom, filled with students staring at their illuminated laptops, so I find an open spot on the floor. I’m wearing a skirt so any way I contort my body feels awkward.
Shudders cover the windows and the lighting is dim. Attention is focused on the screen in front of the classroom, where a photographic image is being projected. In it, I see a dark wooden room with a single window to the left covered by a white curtain—lace.
Using a camera with a long-exposure time, Billie explains that she photographed the inside of confessionals for 10 minutes. She says she aimed to capture the essence of private, of a place where one is forced to confront truth.
Then the image on the screen changes. This room is much smaller. It is also dark and wooden and has a bench attached to the wall. I can see handprints in the dust that have collected on the bench.
I thought all confessionals were simple wooden boxes, but Billie’s photographs show something different. There are some with bright colors, some dirty, some with a little light, some rustic, some concrete, some untouched. I have never been in a confessional before—not because I don’t believe in the act, but because I’m not Catholic.
Her work is called “Reconciliation.” I like that.
Maybe If I Just Say It in One Go…
OnedayaftercomingbackfromrecessIwaswaitingontheyellowlinedesignatedforthirdgraderswhen myyoungerbrothercameuptometogivemeahugandIpushedhimawaybecauseIthoughtitwasn'tcool tohugyouryoungerbrotherorsomethinglikethatandhewalkedawaytohisdesignatedyellowlineand apparentlyitreallyhurthisfeelingsbecausehecriedaboutittomymomwhenwegothomeandIdidn'teven apologizeorsayanythingbecauseIdidn'tfeellikeIhaddoneanythingwrongandnowlookingbackIknow IdidsomethingwrongbutwasthewrongestthingIhaddonepushinghimawayoristhatI'veneversaidI'm sorryandI'mtooafraidtosoI'mhidinginthismess?
Priest: How may I help you, my daughter?
Me: Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. My last confession was never.
Priest: What is it you would like to confess?