American Purity Balls photographed by David Magnusson

Have you ever heard of purity balls? This is an event where young girls promise to “live pure lives before God”, especially by remaining virgins until marriage. Fathers are their riders, and are committed to protecting their child’s precious chastity – a commitment sometimes symbolized by a “purity ring”.

American Purity Balls photographed by David Magnusson
©David Magnusson

Like many people, Swedish photographer David Magnusson had a strong opinion on the subject but decided to take a real interest in it, to try to understand the girls and fathers who chose to participate.
So he went to photograph the fathers and daughters, talked to them, to free himself from the prejudices that his culture and education had pushed him to develop.

American Purity Balls photographed by David Magnusson
©David Magnusson

He explains that he wanted to create “portraits so beautiful that the girls and their fathers could be proud of the pictures in the same way as they are proud of their decisions” while leaving the viewer to interpret the images according to their own beliefs and convictions.

American Purity Balls photographed by David Magnusson
©David Magnusson

David Magnusson’s Purity series calls for discussion. The artist refers to his work as an “exploration of how the message and meaning of a photograph is something very personal and subjective”

American Purity Balls photographed by David Magnusson
©David Magnusson

The portraits of fathers and their daughters, in powdery, bluish colors, will be seen as unhealthy for some, as yet another example of the control that men exercise over women’s bodies, others will see it as the simple expression of paternal love.

American Purity Balls photographed by David Magnusson
Purity at Fotografiska, The Swedish Museum of Photography, 2014

Find David Magnusson’s work on his website, and follow him on Instagram