Acres of Longing (2020-2021)
We were stuck in a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan at the epicenter of the United States’ coronavirus outbreak. Forced into quarantine, our detachment from nature had become extreme, unbearable. It was as if we were decomposing, having not breathed fresh air for weeks. Confinement was amplified by the incessant sounds of ambulance sirens.
The days were hard to pass in isolation. We needed to find a way to break up the monotony, to remove ourselves from the redundancy of this alarming new reality. I started photographing my children for the first time. Taking the camera out activated them to play make believe. I found inspiration in watching their development, like surveying the plants in my kitchen growing taller with each watering. Soon we were collaborating in making these pictures, supporting one another to work through our frustrations, our fears, building upon one another’ promises.
After some eight weeks inside, we finally got out for a hike at a city park. Being in the open air was invigorating. We quickly recognized our dependence on nature as a necessity for renewal. Weekend treks became family ritual as we searched for balance, venturing further and further north, deep into the upstate New York environs.
I continued to photograph my children on these journeys out. We were in awe of what we found:
our vulnerability and interdependence inscribed in the landscapes we came upon. Through close observation of body and nature, the life cycles of growth, decay, and rebirth manifested as simultaneously formal and fluid. Sometimes we were confronted with loss, mostly we found life. Standing silent in the natural landscape we could hear voices of the elements, reminding us of the symbiosis of nature’s ecosystems and humankind. The resulting images are at once foreboding and dreamlike, like the opening scene of a dark fairy tale positioned in a mystical enchanted forest.
Humans are currently experiencing several collective crises at once, with multiple systems under extreme stress the world over. This forced experience pressed us to see beyond our individualistic view to embrace a kinship with the environment. These photographs emphasize themes of interconnection, transformation and fragility. They remind us to take heed of the natural world, to listen to their voices, compelling us to practice reciprocity.