For over forty-five years, Doug has been living in the desolate rainforest of Vancouver Island, Canada. I met him on his campsite in 2010, and he has been in my thoughts ever since. What is it like to live on the far-flung edges of the world? How do you survive in a forest full of wild animals, without the faintest trace of a cell-phone connection? I have always dreamed about a life away from society, but would I dare to actually live it?
When I visited Doug with my camera two years later it seemed his sole interest was to talk about the history of his forest. There had been close communities here: first, a group of pioneers, and later a military radar station, where Doug used to work as a carpenter. Their remains were scattered across his campsite – everyday utensils, and even entire buildings. Doug had plans. He would build a hostel; his site was to be an open-air museum, a monument for forgotten times. But the forest permeates everything, and the rains pulverise wood and paper. For Doug, it is a losing battle.
To better understand Doug, I immersed myself in the history so dear to him. Over the following years, my once tangible photography project about living away from society turned into a labyrinth of stories across multiple layers of time and reality. I would find myself completely caught up in them, as though within the jungle itself. I began to wonder: do we actually have control over our lives? Are our choices made as consciously as we like to imagine? Or are we bound by fate? What remains after we are gone?
Doug's Cabin will be published as a multi-layered, fable-like photobook by The Eriskay Connection, in the early Spring of 2019. My own photographs will be interwoven with texts, drawings (by Medy Oberendorff) and found footage. You can pre-order the book here.