Antonie Bruy: The White Man’s Hole
Antoine Bruy’s myriad of projects focus on how we interact with our environments, worlds we build, and spaces we inhabit whether physical or internal. His project, The White Man’s Hole, is part of his Outback Mythologies series, all photographed in Southern Australia. Using a black and white palette, his photographs are set in a bleak mining town revealing the lives of dreamers and losers, hoping for something yet discovered.
Antoine Bruy (1986) is a French photographer graduated from the Vevey School of Photography in Switzerland in 2011. His work studies people and their relationship to privacy, their physical environment, and to the economic and intellectual conditions that determine them. His work has been shown in group shows internationally – Los Angeles, New-York, Paris, Dhaka, Barcelona, Seoul, Angkor. Bruy has been awarded LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards, Getty Images Emerging Talent Awards, Critical Mass 2014 and PDN’s 30 in 2015. His photographs have been featured in numerous publications worldwide including The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Guardian, WIRED, Slate, The Huffington Post and Le Monde. He is currently based in Lille, France.
The White Man’s Hole
Everything starts about hundred years, in 1915, when the New Colorado Gold Prospecting Syndicate, consisting of a Mr Jim Hutchison, his 14 years old son William and two other men had been unsuccessfully prospecting for gold out in the middle of nowhere in South Australia. The young Willie had been left in camp to look after their supplies but disobeyed orders and wandered off to search for water around the foothills of a nearby range. There was a degree of apprehension among the men when he failed to turn up after dark. But a short time later, he strode into camp with a grin on his face. Over his shoulder was slung a sugar bag full of opal. This was on the 1st February 1915 – 8 days later, they pegged the first opal claim. The catalyst for the existence of the future town of Coober Pedy had been discovered. Word of the find spread quickly and by the middle of 1916, miners had moved to the area. Young Willie did not live long enough to see the fruits of his discovery and see what this place was going to become. He drowned five years later while driving cattle across the Georgina River, on the Birdsville Track.
In Coober Pedy, the work is secluded. Climatic conditions almost unbearable. Each prospecting gives place to an uninterrupted broom of machines of all kinds and noises coming to populate the emptiness of the land. In an iterative way, men dig white mountains to draw most of the time only a few precious dust. The Australian town of opal is isolated on the edge of the red lands of the Outback. The hamlet experienced the golden age of rock mining in the 60s to 80s, when the price of diesel was cheap. Today, the mining enclave seems totally disaster-stricken. And yet, some of its inhabitants have taken up residence underground, in artifact concretions called dug-out. The population is the guardian of myriad holes like as many thousand stories. It is estimated that around 750,000 to 3 million holes have been dug around the city. The town tries hard to reconvert itself in the tourism by forging a past and hosts from time to time shooting of international films: Until the end of the world of Win Wenders, Mad Max: beyond thunderdome (III) of George Miller, The Werner Herzog’s country where green ants dream, David Twohy’s Pitch Black. Coober Pedy makes a clean sweep of personal past to create a collective story.
The White Man’s Hole is the second chapter of a project titled Outback Mythologies consisting of six chapters all taking place in the so called Australian outback. Two chapters out of six have been done so far.
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