Seven Days at the Bottom of the Ocean by Ioanna Sakellaraki
“I believe photography can help you walk through the dark times and find tremendous beauty where it is least expected. In linguistics, silence can be defined as meaningful absence, which leaves its traces back in the signifying empty place in a text. Crossing through the Australian desert, any sign of human existence or trace was becoming my daily landmark. The title is inspired by the long, involuntary working hours of the mining labour during the gold rush as a reminder of today’s mantra in society.
This series was shot alongside Oodnadatta Track, Australia’s unsealed 617 km outback road. The track follows a traditional Aboriginal trading route. Some of the images have been also taken throughout the Australian desert in the remote mining towns along the way where the Oldwhen i Ghan Railway and The Overland Telegraph line used to pass from.
What I am interested in this work is documenting the remoteness and absolute silence of the landscape following small interventions of human-made structures or traces demonstrating existence in the otherwise lonesome desert. Where there is no place to go and there is nothing to become. The being-ness of human freedom.”
How did you decide on the color of the overall series?
“The parts of the Australian desert I photographed, mainly in the southern part of the country, are linked to opal mines. This means the sand and landscape is ‘’very white’’. Being there in summer with 47 °C heat gave a nice, clear blue sky in the pictures. Shooting the project in analogue medium format (6×6) helped me produce classic compositions with a certain framing and distance from my subjects.
When I developed my negatives and saw the results, I wished to find a way to add on how crazy I had personally thought that passing through this path and coming across these white deserted flatlands had felt like. So I scanned my film negatives and started working on them. I worked on creating an ambiance.
When I saw the first shot, it looked like a spaceship to me and then I thought this place reminded me of something like Mars so I used different variations of red. It then worked out fine in post-production for the rest of the shots so I kept it and found that it suddenly created both the feeling and coherence I aimed for at the first place.”
Is the mine completely abandoned and hasn’t been touched or worked on for some time? Are there any plans to do something about the place?
“It is a series of mines around different parts of the track. Some of them are inactive. Mining is still an active profession around the areas even if the economy has been shifting over the last decade.”
How long were you out there for your project? How did you get there, did you walk or drive?
“Six weeks. Even if the project title says seven days, the title is inspired by the long, involuntary working hours of the mining labour during the gold rush as a reminder of today’s mantra in society. I drove out there and walked a lot all around the deserted wastelands as well as in the underground mines whenever possible.”
How did you feel, was it peace, or were you creeped out?
“The desert itself was really hot and hiding in the underground mines was a relief from the heat. It is extremely remote and peaceful out there which I absolutely enjoyed. In the effort to let go of the human obsession for order and rhythm, I led myself adrift in the big wide world.
This series is both an introduction and a return to the simplicity held in the country town life. Confronting myself with the form that underlies this vast chaos, I hoped to document the freedom of the commonplace and the individual struggle of the becoming. Where there is no place to go and there is nothing to become. The being-ness of human freedom.”
By Pixsoul. Photos ©Ioanna Sakellaraki .
Visit her Website for more work and info.