“Nature is probably best for solitude”

For his series “Escape”, the Russian photographer Danila Tkachenko has portrayed people who choose to live away from civilization and opt for the woods instead.

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You placed a quote by the Russian filmmaker Andrey Tarkovsky at the start of the book. (“Man does not need society at all, it’s the society that needs man. Society is a forced measure of protection and survival. Unlike a gregarious animal, man must live alone – in nature among animals, plants and in contact with them.”) Do you feel that the outsiders you photographed believe in that?
I didn’t really talk to them about such topics, but I would suggest that they would agree with this statement.

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Daniel Tkachenko (1989) is a Russian visual artist working with documentary photography. For Escape, the series shown here, he has won first prize in the World Press Photo “Staged Portraits” contest. It came out as a book you can buy here. Find more of his work on his website.

Do you think that the outsiders feel lonely? Can loneliness be a conscious choice? It seems it is something that happens to you rather than something you choose.
I think it’s easiest to be lonely in a big city. Probably a person can feel even more lonely in the city than a hermit who doesn’t communicate with any people at all.

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What is the main reason for these “escapers” to go live on their own?
These people all have different reasons to live alone. Some of them lost the beloved ones and didn’t find support from anyone else or from social system, some lost property or got fed up with urban life, some have their own personal struggles… I think, what unites them is the disillusionment about the contemporary society and I would quite agree with them in this.

You spent a long time in the woods for “Escape”. How did the solitude of those surroundings influence the way you worked?
I guess I am now less afraid of darkness and of spaces without people around.

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The pictures invoke a very romantic and idyllic feeling of closeness with nature or a return to our roots. Is that something you wanted to show?
Possibly it was part of my intention, the simplicity of life is charming for me, as well as denial of capitalism and technical progress, but on the other side, I realize that it is also just another kind of utopia. For me it was interesting to see the struggle of human against nature, one on one, and his existence in these conditions – because the nature is something not invented by humans, unlike most of the things that surround us nowadays.

Do you think that nature is the best place for human solitude?
Probably it is the best place, but of course I believe that for every individual story, there is individual way and approach to life.

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Filed under Solitude
Max Tholl
Author

Max likes reading, writing, music gigs, cats, and pickled beets – though not necessarily in that order. He hails from Luxembourg, is terrible at board games, a mediocre cook, but can hum the Turtles theme song in four different languages. Max was an editor for The European where he met Lars. Follow him on Twitter & Instagram.