In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, most people can only dream about escaping to the quiet isolation of the rural countryside. French photographer Antoine Bruy, however, turned that dream into a reality when he hitchhiked across Europe from 2010 to 2013, wandering through remote mountain regions without any fixed destination or route in mind. Along the way, he met several individuals who had willingly abandoned life in the city and retreated deep into the wilderness, sacrificing modern comforts for greater autonomy and freedom.
In his series Scrublands, Bruy documents the homes and faces of the people he encountered, by chance, who live far away from civilization. Staying with these individuals for days or even weeks at a time, the photographer helped them farm land and raise livestock while learning more about their self-sufficient lifestyles. Once teachers, students, and engineers, these people now rely on makeshift buildings, recovered materials, and agriculture in order to survive.
Bruy’s compelling photos capture the idyllic and rustic beauty of living a Walden-esque existence in these 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.”