Would you be willing to leave behind all your modern comforts to re-learn life in the wild?
Eric Valli and the utopians from the vortex /
In a world as interconnected as ours, so full of hindrances and artificial responsibilities, loaded with the call to possess objects, information, a world where everything needs to be done ASAP, leaving everything behind and moving to a mountain, a cabin in the middle of nowhere to never return again and tossing our phone in the trash is extremely tempting, and so is letting time become a mere formality, transforming into what it actually is: a step.
How many people dare leave everything behind and disappear into the wild? How many Thoreau’s are left? How many Alexander Supertramps are out there still? Even if this seems to be a marginal and fantastic lifestyle, almost a million people live like this in the United States.
In his book, Rencontres hors du temps, Eric Valli shows us a series of photographs he took while spending time with three men and a woman that decided to leave life in society behind and to live in nature seeking a place where they would be able to survive. This is not an easy move to make however, and nature can be as cruel as any city, if not even more unkind, and solitude becomes real and evident. Those who survive have a special kind of strength, both physical and moral, but don’t we have to be strong and tenacious to live in monster cities like Mexico City or New York? Why is it more acceptable to live in isolation and at the mercy of the weather than wrapped up in modernity, surrounded by the noise neighbours across the hall make?
Eric Valli shows us a drastic alternative to our hectic lifestyles by portraying the stories of these four characters. John was a Wall Street broker and now is a trapper who lives in a cabin alone; Lynx, who used to be a Punk in both Sweden and the United Kingdom, moved to the Rocky Mountains more than twenty years ago and now uses a silex to remove and shape the skin of dead animals, which she hunts herself, to make clothes. She has a school where she teaches people, who come from all over the globe, to survive in the wild and how to dress in a chic-Neanderthal style; Mason is a retired farmer who now fends for himself, a loner armed with his beard and his Smith & Wesson; Todd was an engineer, he worked in the University of California doing research on engines until one day he realized of the paradoxical life he led: he tried to save the planet by polluting it with toxic products, so instead he decided to find an alternative lifestyle.
Each story is different, and so is every landscape. How did these people come to desire living at the margin of everything to the extent they left it all behind? Why did they question reality to build a different one? When, precisely, did they choose this lifestyle?
Eric Valli’s overwhelming photographs allow us to understand whether we’re ready to go to such great lengths. Is running off and moving to the countryside an alternative to crises and disasters? Would we be willing to sacrifice our (apparent) urban comforts to re-learn how to follow a lifestyle that many of us believe to be a historical legacy? At what moment did we decide that a natural lifestyle is the equivalent to a utopia?Tagged: Eric Valli, photography, Warriors & Rebels, Utopia