Hardcover, 9.5 x 12.5 inches, 92 pages, 58 four-color plates.
"A lyrical meditation on the complex dynamic between humans and the natural world at what may prove to be a critical time for both." — Sean O'Hagan, The Guardian
Foglia grew up on a small farm bordering a wild forest, thirty miles east of New York City. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy flooded his family’s fields and blew down the oldest trees in the woods. On the news, scientists linked the storm to climate change caused by human activity. Foglia realized that if humans are changing the weather, then there is no place on earth unaltered by people.
The average American spends 93% of their life indoors. With this in mind, Foglia photographed government programs that connect people to nature, neuroscientists measuring how time in wild places benefits us, and climate scientists measuring how human activity is changing the air. Many of the scientists included in the book are now facing budget cuts and censorship by the Trump administration.
Human Nature begins in cities and moves through forests, farms, deserts, ice fields, and oceans, towards wilderness. Funny, sad, or sensual, the photographs illuminate the human need to connect to the wildness in ourselves.
Foglia’s photographs are held in major collections in Europe and in the United States, including Art Collection Deutsche Börse, Denver Art Museum, Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, International Center of Photography, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Victoria and Albert Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pier 24, Portland Art Museum, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Foam presents the work of American photographer Lucas Foglia in the exhibition Human Nature.
Lucas Foglia (b. 1983, US) deftly navigates the strange conceptual territory, where wild nature is both a quenching oasis and a shimmering mirage. His photographs show people gazing at nature, touching it, submerging themselves in it, studying it, nursing it, killing it, profiting off it, and, often just barely, surviving upon it. Foglia is a storyteller in the tradition of the great American photographers who show social commitment without losing sight of the aesthetics. His series Human Nature brings together stories about nature, people, government, and the science of our relationship to wilderness.
Lucas Foglia grew up on a small family farm surrounded by forest, just outside New York City. The starting point for his latest project Human Nature is Hurricane Sandy. In 2012, this hurricane flooded his family’s fields and blew down the oldest trees in the woods. On the news, scientists linked the storm to climate change caused by human activity. Foglia realised that if humans are changing the weather, then there is no place on earth unaltered by people.
Human Nature begins in cities and moves through forests, farms, deserts, ice fields, and oceans, towards wilderness. At a time when the average American spends 93% of their life indoors, Foglia photographed government programmes that connect people to nature, neuroscientists measuring how spending time in the wild benefits us; and climate scientists measuring how human activity is changing the air.
ABOUT LUCAS FOGLIA
Foglia graduated with a MFA in Photography from Yale University and with a BA in Art Semiotics from Brown University. His work has been widely exhibited in the United States and in Europe. His prints are in collections including the Art Collection of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, Foam, International Center of Photography, Victoria and Albert Museum and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Foglia was chosen as one of the Foam Talents for Foam Magazine in 2014. He lives and works in San Francisco. His earlier books, A Natural Order (Nazraeli Press, 2012) and Frontcountry (Nazraeli Press, 2014) were published to international critical acclaim. Foglia is represented by Frederick & Freiser Gallery, New York, and Michael Hoppen Contemporary, London.
Human Nature by Lucas Foglia review – into the wild
Man’s impact on the planet is revealed in Foglia’s dramatic portraits of people interacting with the natural world
Tue 10 Oct 2017 08.00 BST Last modified on Sat 2 Dec 2017 16.52 GMT
“I grew up on a small farm, 30 miles east of New York City,” writes Lucas Foglia in his short introduction to Human Nature. “Growing our food and bartering, my family felt shielded from the strip malls and suburbs around us... In 2012, Hurricane Sandy flooded out fields and blew down the oldest trees in the woods. On the news, scientists linked the storm to climate change caused by human activity. I realised that if humans are changing the weather, then there is no place on Earth unaltered by people.”
In this context, Foglia’s choice of title is an interesting one. Is he suggesting that human nature is essentially destructive? Or that nature itself is now shaped by human agency, whether it’s the melting polar icecaps or America’s last remaining protected wildernesses? His book provides few clear answers, but lots of clues. As in his two previous publications, A Natural Order (2012) and Frontcountry (2014), Foglia’s portraits occupy that tricky, slightly heightened hinterland between documentary and staging. (He studied at Yale, where one of his tutors was Gregory Crewdson, the master of grand-scale cinematic fabrication.)
Human Nature opens with an image of a naked man swinging between trees above a stream in Lost Coast, California, a place in which several communities live in seclusion on mountainous coastal terrain accessible only by hiking paths. Is this latterday Tarzan attempting to release his primitive inner self on an Iron John-style retreat? Again, Foglia is not telling, but his book is punctuated by individuals interacting with the landscape in often surprising ways. Another young man, clad only in Speedos, gazes out from the manicured foliage that surrounds his hotel infinity pool. Around him, the skyscrapers of downtown Singapore loom large. The juxtaposition of urban architecture and faux-nature is now a constant aspect of contemporary city planning, as evinced by the next image of two landscape gardeners tending a branch of McDonald’s in Singapore – the first one to have a “green” roof sprouting grass. Perhaps one day cows will graze on it.
Whether in the scientifically created rainforest environments of eco theme parks, such as the Eden Project in Cornwall, or the vast “urban greenways” that are now a feature of the South Korean capital, Seoul, nature is increasingly reinvented for our benefit. Foglia ranges far and wide to collect evidence of this ongoing human-nature interface: a scientist taking samples from a geyser in the world’s largest geothermal field in California; a young volunteer sleeping on a rocky outcrop next to a glacier as part of a research project undertaken by the Juneau Icefield research programme in Alaska. There are several startling images in the book, but none more so than a volcano spouting a flow of lava from a cliff face into the sea on the coast of Hawaii, while a boatful of tourists passes by below. Here, and elsewhere, an almost National Geographic approach to the wonders of the natural world is undercut by a conceptual artist’s eye for the absurd.
This is the kind of hybrid terrain that Foglia has made his own and his often large-scale digital images are even more dramatic – and even more unreal – when viewed as prints in a gallery. (A selection of his work is on show at the Michael Hoppen Gallery in London until 21 October.) The final image shows a naked young couple, Goda and Lev, making love in a field of plants and wild flowers, seemingly oblivious to Foglia’s presence. Apparently, their sexual abandonment is genuine, which, paradoxically, adds another layer of unreality to a photograph that already seems as if it has been carefully choreographed by an art director.
The image was made in Hawaii, where eco scientists have identified some of the cleanest air on the planet. This Edenic location, with its own Adam and Eve, is a symbolic place to end what is a lyrical meditation on the complex dynamic between humans and the natural world at what may prove to be a critical time for both.