I'd like to introduce you to two special people: the first is Katherine. She's a photo student at PNCA and our fantastic intern. The second is Lucas Foglia and he's a fantastic photographer. In what we hope is the first of many interviews with our participating photographers, Katherine's asked Lucas about his current work:
It seems that there are a variety of communities you have photographed in your "Re-Wilding" series, can you comment on the similarities and differences? Are some communities more extreme than others in returning to the wilderness? Do the communities in your series lean toward a specific religion?
For the past few years I have been photographing a network of people in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia who have responded to environmental concerns and predictions of societal collapse by adopting wilderness or homesteading lifestyles. Most of my
subjects live off-the-grid, build their homes from local materials, obtain their water from nearby streams and hunt, gather or grow their own food. Some start fires with friction, tan animal hides for clothing and collect herbs for medicine. Some of my subjects are religious and wear plain clothes, in the fashion of the Mennonites, to avoid government interference in social security, education, insurance, vaccinations etc. There are no universal beliefs or rules to the way my subjects live. This ongoing series is about the complexity of people's relationship to nature and self-sufficiency.
© Lucas Foglia, Acorn with Possum Stew, Wildroots Homestead, North Carolina 2006Does re-wilding have both a physical component and an emotional component, and how do you think your images capture them?
According to Wikipedia, Rewilding is the process of creating a lifestyle that is independent of the domestication of civilization.
What is your personal connection to your subject matter? Do you think the fact that you grew up in an "alternative" environment has helped you feel comfortable making images in these communities?
I definitely think that my upbringing has both inspired and informed my work. I share my subjects' desire for sustainability and a connection to land… I grew up with my extended family on a farm in suburban Long Island. Influenced by the back-to-the-land movement of the 1960's, my parents maintained an agricultural lifestyle as malls and supermarkets developed around us. We heated with wood, grew and canned our food and bartered plants for everything from shoes to dentistry.
Has your work for/with Arnold Newman influenced your image-making? What other artists have influenced you?
I met Arnold Newman when I was eighteen years old and over the following years I printed for him at his studio in NYC and visited frequently to show him my photographs. Arnold, as both a boss, a mentor and later a friend, taught me to think of myself as a photographer. Moreover, he taught me to be a good person first and a good photographer second. Other artists that have influenced me: favorites include Emmet Gowin, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Paul D'Amato and Mark Steinmetz.
You donate a portion of your print sales to the subject of the photo or a related charity – by giving back to your subjects, do you feel like you are creating a cycle of sorts?
I donate a portion of the proceeds from my print sales to either the subject of the photograph or a related charity. I also give my subjects a copy of each print. I think of my photographs as
collaborations between my subjects and myself and as such I want the sale of my prints to benefit my subjects, myself and the idea that I am exploring within the series.
Content-wise, your work kind of falls between documentary and anthropological portraiture. How do you see your place in the contemporary art world?
I think of my photographs as collaborations; as fictions that are accurate to the spaces in which the photographs were made.
How do you see the role of the creator vs. the role of the editor and how does it apply to your work?
I think this series walks a fine line between the appearance of fact and fantasy. I shoot a lot and editing is probably my biggest challenge. A photograph puts a frame around a portion of the world and pulls it out of context. The edit determines the meaning of the series.
© Lucas Foglia, Wildroots Homestead, North Carolina 2008
We hear that as a result of Critical Mass, your work was published in a feature in D Magazine, La Repubblica, in Italy?
The work that was published in D Magazine was from my previous series, titled "The Garden." From 2004 to 2005 I photographed in a community garden in Providence, Rhode Island. The garden became a window into the lives and diverse cultures of the people who grew food there.
Do you think the re-wilding movement is primarily happening in the US, or does it exist in Europe to some extent as well?
I know of a handful of people and communities in Europe, but there is less available land there. The United States is one of the few developed countries in which there is still a wilderness left to
What do you want viewers to take away from your work?
Art provokes thought and emotion while propaganda asks viewers only to remember. I think my best images are simultaneously intimate and ambiguous.