When screeching city noises and demands from the 9-5 job become too much, most people can only dream of what quiet isolation in the rural countryside could be like. But French photographer Antoine Bruy turned that dream into a reality by hitchhiking across Europe from 2010 to 2013.
The artist wandered through remote mountain regions without any fixed destination or route in mind, but along the way met several individuals who had willingly abandoned hectic city life in exchange for retreat in the deep wilderness. These people sacrificed modern comforts for greater autonomy and freedom, and in result became inspiration to the inquisitive photographer.
In Bruy’s series Scrublands, he documented the homes and faces of the people he countered, by chance, who live far away from civilization. Living with these individuals for days to weeks at a time, Antoine helped them farm land and raise livestock while becoming educated on their self-sufficient lifestyles. Once teachers, students, and engineers, these people now rely on makeshift buildings, recovered materials, and agriculture in order to survive off-grid.
The compelling photos capture the rustic beauty and idyllic setting of people who have chosen a Walden-esque existence tucked away in secluded, wild environments. “The people and places depicted in my pictures display various fates which I think should not only be seen at a political level, but more importantly, as daily and immediate experiences,” he explains. “These are, in some ways, spontaneous responses to the societies these men and women have left behind. This documentary project is an attempt to make a kind of contemporary tale and to give back a little bit of magic to our modern civilization.”