Off the Grid: Antoine Bruy is Bringing ‘Scrublands’ to the U.S.

Curators’ Corner

Off the Grid: Antoine Bruy is Bringing ‘Scrublands’ to the U.S.

You had a rough day in the city. Work is overwhelming, your boss is a jerk, and both were in full force today. But at least the $15 salad that you waited in line 25 minutes for was good, right?

The subway is packed; there’s nowhere to put your arms. Yet the person sitting next to you truly believes that this is the perfect time to eat a fork-and-knife dinner. Or maybe it’s lunch for them, because who knows what kind of schedule they’re on if they’re this oblivious.

The thought comes to mind – “This is no way to live my life…I should go off the grid.”

For most urban dwellers, the idea of leaving society behind is lighthearted internal banter. But for a select few, the idea becomes a vision. The vision materializes into a plan, and the plan becomes reality. These are the subjects of French photographer Antoine Bruy’s Scrublands.

Bruy began documenting extreme rural lifestyles in 2010, when the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) network linked him with a job on a farm in Australia. From there, he traveled through remote regions of Europe, volunteering through the WWOOF program to work with those who “made the radical choice to live away from cities, willing to abandon their lifestyle based on performance, efficiency and consumption.”

Bruy connects with his subjects by putting himself alongside them for extended periods – weeks, sometimes months. During this time, He helps with farming and daily tasks, truly experiencing life “off the grid.” The result is a snapshot at a forgotten subculture with imagery that feels equal parts chaotic and serene, daunting and inspiring.

“Most of the farmers had been living in big cities and I really respect their decision to say, ‘This is not my thing and I can’t live this way anymore’,” Bruy told Slate. “I think there are a lot of people thinking this way but few making the steps to change. I was interested in how they managed to live another way.”

Previously self-funded, Bruy raised more than $3,000 in a FotoFund campaign to bring Scrublands to the U.S.

“I plan to come in the USA to make photographs of people who retreat in remote places in the Appalachian Mountains,” Bruy says on FotoFund. “America can indeed be considered as the birthplace of the “back-to-the-land” movement. This phenomenon associated with the ‘70s is still active nowadays and has even regained interest in our time.”

Enjoy a few of Bruy’s images below, and keep an eye out for the “American Chapter” coming soon. Maybe you can manage to drift off into Scrublands while eating that $15 salad.

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