Jonathan Taggart’s Salt and Earth (2008) offers an impressionistic portrait of Whole Village, a contemporary farming cooperative whose biodynamic practices offer an alternative to dominant agribusiness models. Revolutionary in their “off the grid” objectives, communal farms such as Whole Village rely on the pooling of member resources to achieve selfsufficiency. In a late-capitalist society, the collective’s lifestyle is exceptional in its means, aims and commitment to sustainability.
Shot from the hip and presented in rich black-and-white tones, this series depicts a community’s embrace of ancient farming practices, extraordinary in today’s short-term gain/hightech culture. Slow, hand-wrought and labor intensive, here everything old is new, echoed even in use of analogue photography. Sensual, close in, bathed at times in sparkling luminosity, at times in inky shadow, these scenes move us along with the cycle of the seasons. Simple acts and subtle tensions play out through the everyday lives of the community. Family-like, yet not just one family, the collective comes together and moves apart. In Salt and Earth, the members of the collective stand before us, quiet revolutionaries in the face of environmental peril, suggesting what may be a way forward. Katy McCormick