"The term 'landscape', as it has entered the English language, is misleading. 'A portion or territory the eye can comprehend in a single view' does not correctly describe the relationship between the human being and his or her surroundings. This assumes the viewer is somehow outside or separate from the territory he or she surveys. Viewers are as much a part of the landscape as the boulders they stand on." - Leslie Silko; Landscape, History, and the Pueblo Imagination
The more we separate ourselves from the natural world, the more harm we inflict upon it. The rapid progression of technology and urban environments has created a hierarchy in the minds of people, muddling our priorities, creating a divide between us and our surroundings. Urban communities are taking over forests and coastlines, concrete prisons in which we have become blinded to the very bars which entrap us. Societal constructs and the importance placed on individualism have made us out to believe that humans are intrinsically superior to nature, that it is our right to over-consume the earth’s resources, that nature exists simply for our advancement. But what if we changed that mindset, saw ourselves as a part of, not separate, from the ground on which we stand?
In this series I have inserted myself into the landscape. I have attempted to blend in with it, imitating it’s structures and forms. I have emulated the shapes of rocks, learned to breathe in unison with the sea, folded myself into the crevices of the earth. In a way, these self portraits are my way of understanding my place on this planet. I am carving out room for myself, giving myself permission to take up space, to belong and exist in cohesion with the world around me. But more importantly, these portraits are about learning to step outside of myself, looking outward rather than inward, seeing myself as just one single piece of a much larger puzzle, simply different organisms and species attempting to coexist within the same space.
Oftentimes, when we think of natural environments, we exclude the presence of humans. Our very presence is perceived as unnatural, an invasion on the world. And while, yes, we have poisoned and destroyed a large portion of earth's ecosystems, it is important to remember that we are, in fact, a part of these ecosystems, and that in order to guarantee a healthy and habitable planet for future generations we must work to restore that which we have so recklessly destroyed.
By placing myself within these landscapes, I am reasserting the idea that we are not separate, but one, with the nature. If we are able to see ourselves as a part of the natural environment, then perhaps we will view the world with more empathy and respect, and therefore, feel a greater responsibility to preserve the planet we call home.