WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY LAURENCE ELLIS
Humanity has had an inarguable impact on the earth beneath our feet—and yet even the name of our species derives from the same word as soil.
Fucking flies, thousands of them, constant. I wondered how many orbited this expanse of borrowed world.
Terrestrial land formed around 4.39 billion years ago, as though it never changed.
Hadean zircons devoid of humanity for thousands of miles, constantly reminded of their existence by the oppressive man-made furnace.
The future is not imagined; here it is.
A timeless state where past and future merge into anything but reality.
Europeans arrived a few hundred years ago and decided on the concept of Australia.
January 2020, our isolation is still incubating. This was supposed to be fantasy given way to reality. Life’s a little funny like that.
4207 kilometers, 33 days. It seemed like a natural journey to picture our collective future. (We aren’t part of the story anymore: Spoiler alert, we killed ourselves off in season 2000 and something.)
Land that tells stories, not for our ears.
Human. Humus. Same as Soil. The foreword and afterword.
Lines and dreams containing all of our pasts, none of our future; they don’t believe in such silly ideas here.
We are the land and the land is us.
February 16th was my birthday. Given by a mother who never knew hers. Absence is no reminder.
I departed along a trail in Watarrka National Park.
On the way home, a few thousand miles later, we spoke: Judy Atkinson, a Jiman/Bundjalung (Aboriginal Australian) author.
A walk in the gorge, finding the rock pool, a sacred site to the Luritja people, deep in the guts of it.
We talked and we listened together. A discourse so sad it could only be of our world. Trauma as old as time, woven through the abused land that is all our souls.
Absent futures that fall, abandoned pasts. Their mothers and fathers. We could imagine that anyway, it’s all natural.
Judy calls these “trauma trails,” reminiscent of the song lines so close to the people of this land.
My neck aches slightly, dictating my eyes from the blue, below to up there.
The cavernous expanse of rock, sheltering the Gerridae from tide not time.
The water obliges my tears.
For all my past and all our trauma,
my belief in alone.
Until they came, as they did everyday.
They are my world, and I am grateful for every one of them
however many they may be
I am and are beauty in being
We are them
An abridged journey to be published in its entirety in 2021: Soil with photographs by Laurence Ellis and story by Judy Atkinson.
We acknowledge the Luritja people, the traditional custodians of the land where these images were taken and pay respect to their Elders past and present.
Neo-Natural is a study of humankind's relationship to nature in the age of climate change, including topics such as resource depletion and regeneration, gene editing, cellular agriculture, and the increasingly inarguable effects of the Anthropocene on indigenous communities around the globe. It features contributions from artists like Yoko Ono, ANOHNI, Ryan McGinley, Daniel Beltra, and more, all attempting to answer the question: What does "natural" mean in the modern world?