Overview participating photographers
Fern Leigh Albert
Last year the British photographer Fern Leigh Albert joined a self-sufficient community of 13 adults and eight children on a 13 hectare site in a woods. They have built their own dwellings, draw water from a spring, and generate their own electricity. In her photos Albert records her experiences and functions as an active member of the community. In addition, she likewise reflects on her own life as the ideal of a sustainable form of living, which has the smallest possible impact on the earth.
The isolated Älvdalen (literally translated as 'river valley') valley in Sweden can credit its mystic image primarily to the unique variant of Swedish that is spoken there, a dialect highly similar to the language spoken by the medieval Vikings. Among the 3000 people who still speak this language – among them the grandparents of the photographer Maja Daniels – there are only 45 youth. Therefore secondary school graduates receive bonus of 750 euro if they can speak Älvdalska. Daniels documented the lives of these young people, who cherish their language as a part of their unique identity and have taken on the responsibility for its survival.
Laura Hynd's grandfather built a simple vacation cabin in the Scottish hills at the spot where he first met his wife. Without electricity or running water, it is a place where you are thrown back on your own resources to survive. After her grandfather's death in 2010, the family spread his ashes around the cabin. Hynd reworks the unique ambiance of this spot and the passing away of the family patriarch into a new legacy, in which she combines her own photos of the cabin and its idyllic surroundings with stills from the film that her grandfather made in 1947 of his first meeting with his future wife. Stemming from her fascination for the wilderness, she created the work at a time when she wanted to flee society.
In the 1980s hundreds of farms in Delaware County, in the American state of Pennsylvania, were abandoned. In the past decade, however, under the influence of interest in small scale food production, the area has seen an influx of a new generation of farmers. They are implementing new ideas and sustainable methods for the production of organic foodstuffs, often operating on the border of economic survival. In her series One Farm, One Decade Dana Matthews follows the activity on Richard Giles's Lucky Dog Farm in the Catskills Mountains, where both of them live; Giles came there to farm and write, Matthews left Brooklyn in search for a place where she could create. Although he has been producing food for regional farmer's markets for a decade, his future looks anything but rosy: floods and droughts caused by climate change, and the constant threat of the shortage of sufficient clean drinking water, throw a spanner in the works for farmers like Giles.
In the early 20th century photographer Paul Thulin's great-grandfather settled on the coast of Maine, because it looked like his fatherland, Sweden. That was also the reason why his family would return there, to Gray's Point, in the extreme northeast of the United States, every summer for a century. The detailed stories of his great-grandfather and other family members, which arose and were told and retold there, form the essence of his family's identity, says Thulin. In his photos of this place he offers us a poetic vision of land, family, and time.
Members of what is called the Rainbow Family regularly come together from all over the world. The participants seek to live in harmony with nature. They reject violence, the consumer economy, and gather only in the most beautiful natural settings. Since her earliest youth the photographer Zia Zeff had gone to these Rainbow Gatherings, as they are called, with her parents. As a photographer who is also a professional dancer, painter and bodypaint and tattoo artist, she wanted to record her fellow Rainbow-family members in a more artistic manner than merely in a documentary portrait. She asked them to have their bodies painted as the animal or plant with which they felt the most affinity – their connection with the indigenous South American divinity Pachamama, literally ‘Mother Earth’. The result is a mix of painting, documentary photography and theater.