The seeds for this project lie in my personal experience.
I was 37 when I realised I had arrived at a critical point. Constantly away with work yet smothered by debt, I felt trapped. The space I took up had become faint and unfamiliar, uncomfortable and unbearable. Suffocating with the expectation to succeed, to become a home-owner, a mother, a wife, whatever a woman in her late 30s should be, I had two possibilities. Continue on the path of my existing story or begin to imagine a different one. In an act of necessity and defiance, I let go. I stepped out of my story and found myself, unexpectedly, in the landscape of my childhood.
Exploring the world I’d known as a child, wherever I could get to on foot, Entering The Bardo weaves together my reconnection to the landscape and to myself within the broader narrative of our cultural disconnection to land and nature. Through the work I have used writing and the camera as thinking tools to explore trails of memories, dreams, and reflections. Inner landscapes and outer terranes, narratives that ripple throughout a place and gesture to the so-much-more.
We are living in an era of unprecedented change, where our human impact upon the Earth and our eroded connection to the natural world has reached a tipping point. Abuses of land and power, industrialisation, privatisation, fossil fuel consumption, deforestation, and intensive farming have all contributed to a land scoured of species and natural habitats. A land long feeling the effects of a man-made disaster. While Imperialist attitudes of earlier centuries continue to inspire a legacy and future of land division and inequality, the vast majority of us have become strangers to the landscape. Begging the question how can we love, protect and value what we don’t know? Like us, the landscape shapes and is shaped by the stories we learn, informing the systems and structures we live by, a socially constructed space. Through attentive ways of being and slower acts of noticing I consider the potential to alter these stories and imagine new ones.
Whose story is the landscape? Is it mine, is it yours, is it ours? Is it the landowners or the private corporations? Or is it a story more ancient, feminine and fantastic? If we have the vision to save ourselves, do we have the imagination to save that too?
“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
Leah Band is an artist and photographer from the UK. After more than 10 years working professionally in fashion, documentary and advertising photography she has turned her attention to her personal artistic practice. Through a feminist lens she explores themes of autobiography, landscape and power to reflect upon personal narratives and the stories we live by. Her work has been published internationally and is currently in the online exhibition Re-Imagining Place. She is a member of the AOP’s f22 group which supports female and female identifying photographers and addresses inequality in the photographic industry.