Getting off the grid in Argentina

Getting off the grid in Argentina

Embracing the elements — Photographer Alice Zoo escapes the anxiety of London life for the 'rawness and grit' of nature by the Andes – a pure experience she likens to time travel.

Last year, photographer Alice Zoo left London feeling disillusioned. There were anxieties about jobs, rent and money – “the usual stuff” – so she decided to move to Argentina in search of a different lifestyle.

AliceZoo resize1“I wanted to spend some time on a farm to take myself out of my head a little, work with my hands instead of my brain,” says the 25-year-old.

“Argentina struck me as being free of visual clichés. It’s easy to conjure up a mental image of the US or the UK, for example, as there’s such a long history of photographic work coming out of them. But Argentina felt more of an unknown quantity, so it was a chance to be a little freer with my work aesthetically.”

Hasta el Cielo, the title of Zoo’s project, documents the winter months she spent working on a self-sustaining fruit-and-veg farm near Mendoza, close to the Chilean border and beneath the Andes.

The photos aimed to capture her back-to-nature existence for three months: the cycles of labour, the subordination to the elements, the coming together of people, plants and animals.

Zoo’s choice to shoot in black-and-white was to illustrate “the rawness of the experience” as closely as she could. There was no internet, no central heating and no farm machinery: everything was done by hand.

“The rosy brightness of colour wouldn’t have done justice to the way it felt to be there,” she says. “It was almost like a kind of time travel – being subject to the whims of the elements, having no idea what was happening in the rest of the world, relying on traditional processes for the farm work.”

“The black-and-white for me came to act as an abstraction of the way it felt to be there, having completely changed my lifestyle from back in London. I also wanted to get away from whimsical notions of natural beauty, cherry blossom and idealised rural life.”

AliceZoo resize 9
“Living in this way can be tough and I think black-and-white demonstrates something of that grit.”

Check out Alice Zoo’s online portfolio or follow her on Instagram @alice.zoo.

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