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Hasidic man walking on the street in the neighborhood of Williamsburg during a blizzard, New York, December 2010.

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Hasidic women and kids praying in front of the Navy Yard in the neighborhood of Williamsburg, New York, September 2010.

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Ultra-Orthodox Jews Rally to Discuss Risks of Internet, City Field, Queens, New York, 20 May 2012.

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Sukkot holidays in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, October 2012

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Kapparot between Hasidic Jews in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York. September 2012. Kapparot is performed with a live chicken (rooster for men, hen for women). The families were gathering in different places in Williamsburg were for $8 they "rented" a chicken from a seller and used it to bless all the family. The ritual is preceded by reading Psalms 107:17-20 and Job 33:23-24. While swinging the chicken, the following paragraph is recited three times: This is my exchange, this is my substitute, this is my atonement. (This rooster (hen) will go to its death), while I will enter and proceed to a good long life and to peace. The person swings a live chicken over one's head three times, symbolically transferring one's sins to the chicken. The purpose of the sacrifice is for the expiation of the sins of the man as the chicken symbolically receives all the man's sins, which is based on the reconciliation of Isaiah 1:18 in the Hebrew Bible. After the ritual, the family returns the chicken to the seller. The chicken were not sacrificed during the ritual also if in the Jewish tradition the chicken is then slaughtered and donated to the poor for consumption at the pre-fast meal.

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A group of people pray, sing and dance in the Redeemer Christian Church in Brooklyn, New York, October 2010.

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Kid baptized at the Redeemer Christian Church in Brooklyn, New York, October 2010.

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A group of people pray, sing and dance in the Redeemer Christian Church in Brooklyn, New York, October 2010.

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People pray on the curb in front the Murid Islamic Community in America. MICA is an Islamic Religious non profit organization founded in 1989 and located at 46 Edgecombe Avenue in Harlem, New York. "You can come here to eat, to pray, to get free food, to ask questions, to use the bathroom. It’s for everybody. That’s what we call Islam", they say. New York, June 2011.

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Senegalese men at the Murid Islamic Community in America. MICA is an Islamic Religious non profit organization founded in 1989 and located at 46 Edgecombe Avenue in Harlem, New York. "You can come here to eat, to pray, to get free food, to ask questions, to use the bathroom. It’s for everybody. That’s what we call Islam", they say. New York, June 2011.

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People chanting in the zendo at the Zen Center of New York City in Brooklyn. The cornerstone of Zen training is zazen, the formal practice of seated meditation. In its beginning stages, zazen is a practice of concentration, with a focus on following or counting the breath. The ZCNYC is one of the few residential Buddhist training centers in the city and represents the metropolitan branch of the Mountains and Rivers Order located upstate NY. New York, September 2011.

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People chanting in the zendo at the Zen Center of New York City in Brooklyn. The cornerstone of Zen training is zazen, the formal practice of seated meditation. In its beginning stages, zazen is a practice of concentration, with a focus on following or counting the breath. The ZCNYC is one of the few residential Buddhist training centers in the city and represents the metropolitan branch of the Mountains and Rivers Order located upstate NY. New York, September 2011.

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People chanting in the zendo at the Zen Center of New York City in Brooklyn. The cornerstone of Zen training is zazen, the formal practice of seated meditation. In its beginning stages, zazen is a practice of concentration, with a focus on following or counting the breath. The ZCNYC is one of the few residential Buddhist training centers in the city and represents the metropolitan branch of the Mountains and Rivers Order located upstate NY. New York, September 2011.

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Zendo at the Zen Center of New York City in Brooklyn. New York, September 2011.

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Woman offers her lamp during the Sharad-Purnima Festival (Festival of the Autumn Moon) at the Krishna Temple Radha Govinda Mandir at 305 Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn, New York, October 2011.

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Women dance at the Krishna Temple Radha Govinda Mandir at 305 Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn, New York, November 2011.

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Procession for the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe organized by the Church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel at 627 East 187th Street, Bronx, New York, December 2012.

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Church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, 627 East 187th Street, Bronx, New York, Easter, April 2012.

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Church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel at 627 East 187th Street, Bronx, New York, December 2012.

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Teaching the Gospel to deaf Mormons at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at 144 W 15th Street in NY. February 2012.

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Waiting for the service for deaf Mormons at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at 144 W 15th Street in NY. February 2012.

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Vodou altar in Brooklyn, New York. Vodou rituals and pantheon reflect a lot of the Roman Catholicism tradition as well as African religious heritage. Haitian Vodouists revere a supreme God - Bondye - and a world of powerful spirits, Iwa, who link the human with the divine. There are hundreds of lwa in the Vodou religion, and each has its own personality, strengths, weaknesses, and favorite objects. Ceremonies move to the rhythm of the drum; induced by sound and glitter, the lwa may possess their servitors or, as Haitians say, ride the horses. Gede is the name of a family of raucous spirits who personify the ancestral dead and sexual regeneration; the Gede Iwa are some of the most interesting and outrageous spirits in the Vodou tradition and generally, when they decide to show up, they ride the horses at the end of the celebration. New York, March 2012.

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Societe Racine Sans Bout, Haitian priest, during a Vodou ritual in Brooklyn, New York. Vodou rituals and pantheon reflect a lot of the Roman Catholicism tradition as well as African religious heritage. Haitian Vodouists revere a supreme God - Bondye - and a world of powerful spirits, Iwa, who link the human with the divine. There are hundreds of lwa in the Vodou religion, and each has its own personality, strengths, weaknesses, and favorite objects. Ceremonies move to the rhythm of the drum; induced by sound and glitter, the lwa may possess their servitors or, as Haitians say, ride the horses. Gede is the name of a family of raucous spirits who personify the ancestral dead and sexual regeneration; the Gede Iwa are some of the most interesting and outrageous spirits in the Vodou tradition and generally, when they decide to show up, they ride the horses at the end of the celebration. New York, March 2012.

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Vodou ritual in Brooklyn, New York. Vodou rituals and pantheon reflect a lot of the Roman Catholicism tradition as well as African religious heritage. Haitian Vodouists revere a supreme God - Bondye - and a world of powerful spirits, Iwa, who link the human with the divine. There are hundreds of lwa in the Vodou religion, and each has its own personality, strengths, weaknesses, and favorite objects. Ceremonies move to the rhythm of the drum; induced by sound and glitter, the lwa may possess their servitors or, as Haitians say, ride the horses. Gede is the name of a family of raucous spirits who personify the ancestral dead and sexual regeneration; the Gede Iwa are some of the most interesting and outrageous spirits in the Vodou tradition and generally, when they decide to show up, they ride the horses at the end of the celebration. New York, March 2012.

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Washing before Friday's Jumm’ah prayer at Columbia University, New York, May 2012.

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Student after Friday's Jumm’ah prayer at the Islamic Center at NYU, New York, April 2012.

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Friday's Jumm’ah prayer at Columbia University, New York, April 2012.

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Orthodox Jews at 15 Old Broadway Synagogue, Harlem, New York, April 2012.

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Orthodox Jews at 15 Old Broadway Synagogue, Harlem, New York, April 2012.

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Reading of the Torah at 15 Old Broadway Synagogue, Harlem, New York, April 2012.

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Greek Easter Vigil at Saint Demetrios Cathedral, 30-11 30th drive, Astoria, Queens, New York, April 2012.

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Greek Easter Vigil at Saint Demetrios Cathedral, 30-11 30th drive, Astoria, Queens, New York, April 2012.

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Greek Easter Vigil at Saint Demetrios Cathedral, 30-11 30th drive, Astoria, Queens, New York, April 2012.

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End of Sukkot and celebration for the election of a new rabbi between Hasidic Jews in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, 9 October 2012.

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End of Sukkot and celebration for the election of a new rabbi between Hasidic Jews in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, 9 October 2012.

Before I came to New York I expected to find a secular and consumer-driven city. I was really surprised by the rich, diverse, intense religious life present in each neighborhood and the complex and sometimes complicated implications these different belief systems have for how people live their lives. The number of temples is overwhelming, but so is the media's indifference to this aspect of the city, as is their consistent tendency to sell the world the most glamour-focused, profane vision of New York. These encounters with different religious groups and the lack of representation of spiritual life in the media began to form in to an idea which has developed in to the ongoing series Babel, the Urge to Pray.

Maybe because it is assumed that religion is not a topic that appeals to the public, or because it is not an easy subject to 'sell'? Maybe because, at this moment of global religious tensions and confrontations, the relative religious tolerance (or indifference) found in New York City is not considered news. But I think these stories, and how they coexist together, are important and worth exploring.

Babel, the Urge to Pray focuses on different religions in New York, some practiced by various immigrant communities and others where the majority of the faithful are Americans. In the immigrant communities that I began photographing in 2010 - Hasidic Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslims, Haitian Vodouists, Hare Krishna, Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox - spirituality represents an element of unity for people that, whether they migrated here fairly recently or many generations ago, still belong to very separate social, linguistic and religious groups.

New York City is not just a multi ethnic, dynamic, composite metropolis but also a 'Babel' full of enclaves, mainly faith based. For many people in New York, religion represents a source of community and intimacy with their fellows and at the same time an element of separation from the rest of the world that doesn't share their beliefs. Following research I began to photograph in black and white as I feels that New York is better without the distraction of the color which makes it look so glamorous and fake, the set of a movie devoid of reality. The majority of the communities are captured from within, many taking months to complete, though not all, some are over in a couple of days.

I estimate I have at least a year to go on the project with aims to turn it in to a book and multimedia piece, seeing the addition of text and audio I have collected from the locations as being a way to increase engagement and understanding.