Markéta Luskacová, 'Sleeping Pilgrim'

Markéta Luskacová, 'Sleeping Pilgrim'

Markéta Luskacová (born 1944)
'Sleeping Pilgrim'
1967-70
Gelatin-silver print
Museum no. PH.1680-1980
© Markéta Luskacová

The Photograph

The picture was taken in the late 1960s and was exhibited prior to the Prague Spring uprising in 1968.

Luskacová made friends with a group of pilgrims and one summer was invited to travel with them. Their religious practice was based on the Catholic tradition, with a special veneration for the Virgin Mary. She witnessed and recorded community celebrations, from the death of a friend's mother to the annual pilgrimages.

Pilgrimage was the most significant break the people would have had from their working lives. It was a chance to meet with friends and family and mark significant moments in the life of the community. The rural way of life meant the community was isolated from the rest of the world. However, even at the time these photographs were taken, this separateness was fading.

The man in this image seems precariously balanced on the ground in his tree-shaded sleep, both vulnerable and sheltered from the concerns of the day. The physically demanding nature of a pilgrimage on foot is evident in fact that he can rest so soundly in such an awkward position.

'The pilgrim takes refuge in God from the world itself, seeking forgiveness and praying for a better predicament in the afterlife. Unlike the holidaymaker, the pleasure of the pilgrim is not in escaping from reality but in going to the place where it can be seen more clearly. The former's dreams are lived out within the confines of the earth; the latter's are located far beyond.' Shagufta Yaqub, Guardian, January 2001

The Photographer

Markéta Luskacová studied at the University of Prague between 1962 and 1968. She wrote her thesis, illustrated with her own photographs, on traditional forms of religious faith in Slovakia. She then took a photography course at the Academy of Film and Fine Arts. In 1969 she was elected as member of the National Union of Artists and the following year she won its scholarship. Luskacová now lives in Britain and is an associate member of Magnum.

 

This photograph can be found in Print Room Box 16.