A photo essay by André Daughtry
WILDERNESS is a speculative documentary photography, film, and performance project that engages an “integral ecological” research approach to the questions of sustainability and spirituality. The project is an investigation into how western societies’ ecological awareness can be expanded through intimate contact with indigenous populations and their respective cosmologies.
The motivation that lead me to work on the project that I have called WILDERNESS comes from the concern that I have of the various green movements that exist in industrial western societies. There seems to be a messianic sentiment that looks towards technological advances as the sole keys we need as a species to avoid global destruction.
I am interested in what our spiritual relationships are with all things that share this planet with us, and to suggest that a reorientation of our relationships is possibly a more important priority. WILDERNESS is a lens-based project that deals with concepts of cartography and interactions with indigenous traditions. Can we make maps that direct us towards respecting the subjecthood of nature? That is to say, do animals, mountains, and rivers have their own purposes and needs to exist, not only as our partners but as their own entities that have rights that need to be protected as well?
The many movements for renewable energy still bring forward new forms of oppression with unanticipated yet dangerous results. Materials to fabricate solar panels are toxic and make people who mine for the materials sick. Wind farming is a danger to precious bird species and evacuates land species in order to to create the space for the turbines. Electric cars use materials like nickel, lithium, cobalt, and copper that need to be mined by people mostly in the global south who work in poor conditions with unstable governments. The geopolitical consequences are numerous for renewable sources that still will only fulfill a quarter of the world’s energy needs.
My project takes into consideration indigenous spirituality, cosmology, and practices as a way to discover new ways of being in relationship with the world that puts into question purely technological solutions to the climate crisis.
All work at The Commons is published under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
His exhibitions include My Time with the Descendants of Atlantis, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Valencia, CA, 2015; Calarts MFA Show, Los Angeles, 2015; Artist-in-Residence Exhibition, Redline Gallery, Denver, 2012-2013.
He received his MFA in Photography and Media from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and an MA in Theology and the Arts from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York.
André is a recipient of Allan Sekula Social Documentary Award, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), 2014; Robert E. Seaver Award in Worship and the Arts, Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, 2017; Artist-in-Residence, Redline Gallery, Denver, 2012-2013. Artist-in-Residence, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) Workspace Program, 2018-2019.