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Far from Civilization: portraits of the Modern Hermits from all over Europe

3 min read

The French photographer Antoine Bruy has embarked on a long hitch-hiking journey across Europe, which lasted from 2010 to 2013, penetrating between the remote mountainous regions not normally reached by the main roads.
Bruy first developed the idea for the project after traveling from the north of France to the south of Morocco in 2006. Along the way he met people living in the wilderness who intrigued and fascinated him. Why did they choose to live away from major populations and what philosophies lay behind their lifestyle choices? So In 2010, he set off again with the idea of documenting the lives of this intriguing group people.

Along his pilgrimage he met many people who abandoned the life and stress of urbanized places to retreat to shelters and huts on the edge of civilization. Through the woods and streams, Bruy has immortalized a practically unknown world, people who do not live according to the normal (for others) technological evolution. Bruy stayed with these people helping them with housework, cultivating and working with animals, learning to survive without external help. Among them there are (all former) students, teachers, engineers and other professionals, who today take shelter in makeshift buildings using recycled materials and practice agriculture and pastoralism to survive.

The photographer tells his own experience: “From 2010 to 2013, I hitchhiked throughout Europe with the aim to meet men and women who made the radical choice to live away from cities, willing to abandon their lifestyle based on performance, efficiency and consumption.
Without any fixed route, driven by encounters and chance, this trip eventually became for me a similar kind of initiatory quest to those of these families. Eight of these experiments are shown here, and display various fates which I think should not only be seen at a political level, but more importantly as daily and immediate experiences.
The heterogeneity of places and situations shows us the beautiful paradox of the pursuit of a utopia through permanent empirical attempts and sometimes errors. Unstable structures, recovered materials, or multiple applications of agricultural theories allow us to see the variety of human trajectories. All of which aiming at developing strategies to gain greater energy, food, economic or social autonomy.
These are in some way spontaneous responses to the societies these men and women left behind. Therefore their land is exploited but never submitted, the time has lost his tight linearity to become a slow and deliberate pace. No more clock ticking but the ballet of days and nights, seasons and lunar cycles.

Below, a house built with recycled materials:

A small elevated room:

Some of these hermits have also chosen to bring their children with them:


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