More than one month after our open call closed, we are finally here.
You may be wondering, who the heck are you guys? Formerly known as ‘of the land & us’, we have taken on a new name and identity; we are now Black River. The core of the journal remains the same, and you can read more about the decision and history behind the new name in our about section.
It’s taken a huge amount of work to get here, but we’re so pleased that we were able to commit to our intention of including every single person who submitted to our very first issue. We can’t thank our contributors enough for their effort and hard work, and for trusting us with their brilliant work in the first place.
All in all, we had just under 200 submissions. A beautifully varied range of stories covering everything from serious environmental issues, including the recent Australian bushfires, to stories about looking for home, to deeply personal narratives about mental health struggles, burnout and embracing sexuality – and so, so much more.
It’s impossible to summarise all the amazing work that was shared with us, and now you in turn. So please grab a hot drink (snacks too!), settle in and set aside some time to read, look at and experience all the incredible photography in this, our very first issue.
Thank you all, and I hope you enjoy the issue!
Founder, Black River
Agne Rita Kucinskaite
Amber Banks Brumby
Ann Katrin Warter
Aster Reem David
Barbara Brown + Cynthia O’Brien
Becky Morris Knight
Celeste Fernández Moncada
Gin Rimmington Jones
Iain Smart + John Carberry
Kate Boucher + Ben Dodson
Len Dela Cruz
María Paz Secundini
Mischa de Stroumillo
Rhona Eve Clews
Simon J Bray
Thomas James Parrish
Wing Ka Ho Jimmi
Celestial bodies define a portion of the universe that hasn’t been mapped. Within the vastness of outer space, it’s a personal, invented cosmos…
Do Brumbies Dream in Red?
Our cities were engulfed in smoke and so much country and life was lost due to the fires. For me the most tragic part of this situation is our continued inability to take meaningful steps towards slowing climate change.
The Cracks in Everything
The photographs were made on multiple trips over five years to Israel and focus on Israel’s “lone soldiers”; thousands of young adults, non-Israelis, who come from over seventy countries around the world to serve in the Israeli Defence Forces.
The motivation behind the work was sometimes to simply try to cope with these emotions, but it also became a way for me to speak up about this important topic because I knew I was not the only one experiencing these problems. It started from a personal need for relief ,and it quickly became important to me as a way to speak up about the importance of mental health.
During this phase of the year, a circle closes, life ends, and re-emerges. Here, life and death, light and darkness, good and evil are said to meet, and a door opens to the otherworld. This time, where the old has not yet entirely faded, but the new has not fully risen, is seen as empty, a vacuum, both dangerous and cathartic, requiring specific rules and procedures to ensure a safe transition from the old chaos into a new order.
The Lament of The Mountains
Nick St. Oegger
The Malësorët have lived in the Kelmend region for centuries and were at one point organised into strong tribal systems with their own laws and system of governance separate from that of the Ottoman Empire, which ruled over the territory.
Our world had shrunk, but perched on the side of this hillside in North Wales it felt like horizons opened up. During the lockdown, Finlay and I explored these hills, and our relationship, together. Walking the rugged hills surrounding our home, hauling him up the ascents on my shoulders, I have also explored the raw landscape of my emotions; I had found becoming a parent a daunting prospect.
Fistful of Ash
Mischa de Stroumillo
The cycle of death and life, especially within ecology, is a concept that is hard to grasp within Western thinking. Having studied and spent some time with indigenous people over the last few years, I’ve learnt that the process of death, in all its various forms, is vital for change.
My pictures document something very different; they chronicle a kind of after de-industrialisation, or delayed de-industrialisation. The large buildings making up the local topography are altered or erased. The artefacts of material culture that were buried within the landscape during the decades of shifting industrial habits are resurfaced through the forces of tide and time. The re-birth of these objects into the 21st century renders them misplaced, lost in time.
Farm of Ideas
One big benefit of farming this way is improved yields, as you get more produce out of the same area of land. An even bigger benefit is to do with climate change. Soils are a natural storage place for carbon, but when we plough we release carbon dioxide from the soil into the atmosphere.
In 1961, four young girls in Garabandal began having simultaneous, frequent visions of the Virgin which lasted for around four years. During the visitations, the visionaries were completely unconscious of their surroundings and would lose all sensory connections to the real world – this was tested by witnesses who would burn them with cigarettes, pinch them or flash bright lights in their eyes to see if they reacted.
There would be rainbow
Lidia Kristi Agustina
I finally had a chance to actually listen to myself, and I found that I do not want to reject myself anymore because I knew I wouldn’t be happy for the rest of my life. I have realised that visibility matters, and to document these complex feelings is really important for me, so that my subconscious can try to translate the struggle that I’ve been through into something that it is familiar.
The Dialogue of the Dogs
It started as a project about a place, but as the project gained momentum, it became a more meditative and meandering journey as I reflected on the difficulty for photography to speak about place or history with any certainty. The project is itself quixotic, because its own failure is embedded within it. It can never accurately articulate this place, only my passing through it. But then I think that’s true for everyone – we’re only ever passing through, and our encounters with place are always transitory.
When I was younger and not familiar with nature, it created an element of fear but also curiosity. It’s the curiosity that drives me to make the work that I am making now, seeing nature not just as a space to observe but as a space to reflect upon my mortality and the implications it has on my mental health and wellbeing.
To Build A Home
One of the most important things that I learnt through doing this project is to trust my approach. I like slow photography. I enjoy the process so much more when I don’t feel rushed, when I can take the time to observe and to make connections to the people I’m photographing.
I’m very much influenced by my Nordic heritage and my formative years growing up in the middle of nowhere by a lake surrounded by nature and the sea. In this kind of place, you grow up respecting the environment and having a natural curiosity for the land that surrounds you, foraging and growing your own.
During the development of the project I became aware of a possibility, the chance to live a different lifestyle. It attracts me, but at the same time I find it so faraway from my life – a utopia, a dream…
On the Farm
All around the world the environment has been suffering. We recently saw the Amazon rainforest and Australia go up in flames, following countless other natural catastrophes that increasingly confirm our societies’ greatest fear and reinforce our biggest challenge: things need to change.
31 Days in Transit
Aster Reem David
In 2018, I reached a point of burnout. I was working extremely long hours and seven days a week most weeks. The notion of being stuck in a dead-end job nagged me every day. It eventually took a toll on my mental and physical health. My photography was being neglected. The only thing I had going for me was that I was able to afford a getaway every so often, and so I did to restore myself.
This series of works have all been produced incorporating the redox reaction of iron into rust, raising the suggestion that if we want photography to be sustainable then the future of photography might look quite different to the black and white analogue imagery we know and have associated with since the 1800s. Perhaps the future of photography will be tones of orange, red, brown and white.
Aunty Uche’s Home
From Aunty Uche I have learnt that you can tell the species of mango tree by tasting their leaves, and how lessons from the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree from the Bible (Luke 13:9) helped her save one of her paw-paw trees.
The Singing Hills
I had heard about the Welsh community in Patagonia, Argentina, but did not know of a sizeable Welsh-identifying community in America, let alone New York and somewhat close to where I lived. I then found out that there was a huge amount of immigration from Wales to America throughout the 1800s and early 1900s.
Where the wildflowers grow
One of the locals, Nikos, even remembered the street where my ancestors used to live, and he took me to the ruin of their original house. It was one of the more intense experiences of the whole journey. I went there every morning to walk through the small wildflower field and attempted to memorise and document every corner of that place.
My motivation was similar to my motivation in taking up photography in the first place: saving myself, finding myself, making sense of what is happening inside me and in the world around me.
Working in the Mojave Desert was an amazing adventure. It is over one hundred degrees most days in the summer and I had to dig the rental car out of the sand a couple of times. For me, the extraordinary thing about this kind of work is always the people – everyone I met shared their passion for the desert and helped me understand what made it special for them. I made friends for life. It is a unique place, with fascinating and generous people.
Storytelling became very important to me and I wanted to visually share stories from my life, how it is to grow up on an isolated country like the Faroe Islands. With the situation we are in today, in this pandemic, this topic of isolation all of a sudden became something we all had to deal with in different ways.