In his latest project GLORYLAND, Robert Leblanc continues to explore his fascination for the strange and unusual. For more than five years, LeBlanc documented a uniquely American subculture: one of the few remaining Holiness serpent-handling churches of West Virginia.
In the Appalachian Mountains, in the only state in the USA where snake handling is not outlawed, one can hear the sound of rattling and hissing fill the air.
In the 20th century came the introduction of a third “blessing” to signify one’s baptism by the Holy Spirit, one that strictly adheres to the very embodiment of the Word, such as Mark 16:17-18 — which includes drinking poison, speaking in tongues, handling fire and venomous serpents without risk of harm or death.
For his long-term project, LeBlanc spent his days studying these deadly practices that are on the verge of extinction, whilst building relationships and trust with his subjects. He was welcomed with open arms, which enabled him to photograph the community and their demonstration of devout faith to the King James Bible from a position of immediacy and closeness. This sense of mutual engagement and transparency is apparent in his series of raw, unguarded black and white images that traverse the worlds of documentary and surrealism.