Photographs and text by Laetitia Vancon
In a world that is becoming increasingly globalized, uniform, and dematerialized, Scotland’s Outer Hebrides—in their sincerity, simplicity, and authenticity—represent a peaceful haven in the collective unconscious. Within this space exists a virtually immutable people: an insular, singular, communitarian and traditional clan crafting their own refuge.
In these isles, one finds a well-preserved microcosm where the experience of isolation has a magnifying effect on the exceptional—albeit fragile—spaces, whether it be on an environmental, economic, or social level. The idea of “territoire” explores the lifestyle, the personal relationships, the sense of belonging, and the process of self-realization in relation to the land.
Does this collective identity define the space, or does the space form one’s identity? Also, how do we chisel out a path to the future without abandoning our heritage?
These are the fundamental questions underlying this series of photographs. The ongoing project, which began in January, will focus on the young people, ages 18 to 35, who live in the Outer Hebridean Isles in the northernmost reaches of Scotland—on the savage, hostile, and blustery moors and shorelines.
From the age of 18, the lack of opportunities leaves these youths facing a fork in the road: What now? Which direction should I take? What is left to hang on to? Are these isles really the paradise we perceive them to be—or rather, are they an escape from the dissatisfying, over-developed, uprooted, and unanchored reality of the modern world?
How will these young people balance the social and economic realities that face them? Can they really find solace and purpose in this untamed landscape? Can they find a way to exist in rhythm with the island’s natural ebb and flow, restoring nature to its rightful place?