A first British showing for the acclaimed series A Natural Order by Lucas Foglia, the young American documentary photogapher who spent five years in Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Georgia among people who live “off the grid” in the American backwoods.
Lucas Foglia grew up on a farm on Long Island just 30 miles from Manhattan. His parents were part of the post 1960’s “back to the land movement”. Much of the area surrounding the family home became increasingly urbanised, but his parents continued to strive for self-sufficiency. “While malls and supermarkets developed around us, we heated our house with wood, farmed and canned our food, and bartered the plants we grew for everything from shoes to dental work”.
Lucas Foglia is a graduate of Yale, where he was taught by Gregory Crewdson and Tod Papageorge. In 2006 Foglia set off with his camper van and camera and for five years travelled throughout the southeastern States – Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Georgia– immersing himself in the lives of people living in remote, often alternative communities. The friendships that grew from these experiences formed the foundations for the photographs he took. Foglia himself describes the pictures as an “interpreted narrative” of life off the grid. They serve as an intimate portrayal of people who, motivated by environmental concerns, by religious beliefs, and by the global economic recession– build their homes using local materials; obtain their water from nearby springs, and hunt, gather, and grow their own food. In the pictures we see a real joy in the beauty of nature, and yet also the hardships of living in this way. \”I wanted to see if I could find the absolute, if there were communities or individuals who lived off the grid and were wholly self-sufficient.”
The harmonious natural colours, and iconic, evocative compositions are at once a vision of the pastoral and also an idealised view of sustainable living. However, Foglia does not shy away from highlighting the social issues facing these communities and the contrast to and undeniable continuing connection with, contemporary urban life. Indeed he notes – “Many have websites that they update using laptop computers and cell phones that they charge on car batteries or solar panels”.
At Michael Hoppen in London until 1 December 2012.
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