Tag: Alone

"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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Party of One

Perhaps Paris is best enjoyed without company.

4, 6, 8 … 10 avenue des Champs-Elysées. A century old greenhouse hidden away on one of Paris’s loudest, most hurried streets. White wood paneling, sunlight streaming in, in summertime the terrace looks onto the Grand Palais.
From the kitchen’s innocently open windows, aromas of herbs and slowly cooking wine waft out, stopping a wandering passant. A gentleman d’un certain âge, a definite flâneur, in a navy blue coat, well cut, collar up. About him lingers a hint of Eau Sauvage, and the quiet refinement of one who has well read, traveled, seen, and done. On his left hand, a gold wedding band and a fine brown leather watch. He consults the latter, and one more time inhales. Then, seduced, he walks in.
Through the neatly trimmed garden, up the white marble steps. By the door, a wine list, and desserts on a golden cart. The visual temptation amplifies the olfactory; intricate and delicate, crafted like art.
The maître d’hôtel, however, apologetically says:
Désolé, Monsieur. Nous sommes complets. ((I apologize, Monsieur. We are full.))
Not a table available, not even for one.
But as he watches the gentleman leave, the host has a thought.
Attendez Monsieur! Upon reflection, I believe we do have one.
At the Pavillon Lenôtre, there is a table, with white linen, white roses, fine china and silverware. And a single, perfectly positioned, proud Louis XV chair. Silver salt shakers de chez Christofle, crystal glasses from Baccarat. And the most beautiful view in all of Paris, from across the baie vitrée.
The table cannot be requested, and is always reserved. It is the perfect setting for a party of one.
Its guests are assigned at the maître’s discretion; historically eclectic and few. Old, young, ladies, gentlemen, wealthy, and poor. Frenchmen, foreigners, literate, or not. With nothing in common, save for a quiet way of walking in and inquiring about lunch, tea, dessert – for one.
The gentleman is deemed worthy. He is escorted to his seat. Coat taken, napkin unfolded. The wine is poured in silence, the first plate quietly placed. The guest is left alone, with silence, Paris, and a feast.
En entrée:
Ravioles de langoustines et bouillon de crustacés, ((To begin, scampi ravioli in a light shellfish broth)) accompanied by sips of crisp, young Bandol blanc.
A warm piece of baguette shamelessly sops the light shellfish broth. One lingering sip of white wine.
Remise en bouche: a fresh lemon sorbet.
A few, unhurried minutes later, le plat principal:
Filet de bœuf façon Rossini aux cèpes et gratin dauphinois, ((Beef fillet Rossini with porcini mushrooms and potato gratin)) with a fine wine sauce poured at the table, and a glass of merlot de Pomerol.
The flavors are intense and wholesome. The last bite is deliberately slow.
A fleeting sadness, but consolation soon comes:
The sun setting over Paris, a slice of vieux Comté, more Pomerol.
From the golden cart, a moelleux is served à la chartreuse. The spoon cuts through the soft and crunchy entremets. The warm chocolate oozes out and blends into the liqueur.
Each bite is savored leisurely, in silence and with care. Lenôtre is one of those rare places where dessert and solitude are still considered art.
Short and black, the coffee arrives promptly. The bill never does; another honor bestowed only to the finest table in the house.
To dine alone in Paris is to dine alone with Paris. With the stories it inspired, and those that inspired it. Eiffel’s eccentric tower, Haussmann’s avenues, Hugo’s chimneys, Pagnol’s boulangeries. Sisley’s barges along the Seine, Monet’s mist over Notre Dame. The rivaling cafés des Deux Magots and Flore, the Bec-de-Gaz bar. Picasso’s studio, Renoir’s hôtel particulier. The covered galleries, the rooftop gardens, the secret alleyways.
Street musicians and artists, hidden lovers around corners, chain smokers in the sun. In this city, there is no such thing as a party of one.
The gentleman finishes his coffee. A perfect ending to a perfect meal. The food was exquisite, the view was sublime. He folds his napkin and places it on the tablecloth, beside a few bills. He pulls up the collar of his navy blue coat, ready to leave. But waits for the last ray to set, out of respect.