Wilderness Survival: A Guide to the Aesthetics of Survivalism

Anna Bak (Ed.)


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  • Onomatopee
  • 2015
  • ISBN 9789491677427
  • 144 pages
  • Softcover, edition of 750
  • 21 × 14 × 1.5 cm

Wilderness Survival is a basic guide for life in the wilderness and survivalism as a phenomenon. Wilderness can be seen as a physical space as well as a mental state. It is a theoretical, practical and philosophical understanding of the survivalist lifestyle.

A guide to surviving either real or speculative dangers, survivalism as a poetic, contemporary, historic, social or creative lifestyle choice. This book gives you an insight to some of the main problems and challenges you may face in the wilderness, and provides basic tools to handle these situations.

In addition to the guidebook it includes 4 essays, short-stories and artists texts which put in perspective and visualize survivalism, and determine if and how you can prepare yourself for your future survival.

With contributions by: Anna Bak, Joris Lindhout, Niels Henriksen, Francois Dey, Pádraic E. Moore

Graphic design: Marie Grønkær


Anna Bak:

In the summer of 2014, just as I had started my residency at the Jan van Eyck Akademie in Maastricht, The Netherlands, I came across the story of the North Pond Hermit. This man had been living in the woods for nearly thirty years before his arrest for breaking into people’s homes to steal food and other items necessary for his wilderness survival. Christopher Thomas Knight, the Hermit, wrote of his life in solitude:

 I did examine myself. Solitude did increase my perception. But here’s the tricky thing—when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. With no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there. There was no need to define myself; I became irrelevant. The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand. I didn’t even have a name. I never felt lonely. To put it romantically: I was completely free.

For some years now, I have held a fascination with survivalism as a phenomenon, as has been evident in my work. It is an alluring idea indeed, to choose a completely solitary life in the wilderness —not like Henry David Thoreau’s dilettante attempt with his two year social experiment at Walden Pond, carried out in close (safe) proximity to society, but the genuine and complete withdrawal from the world as we know it. Seeing as to the fact that I would probably never realize such a dramatic lifestyle change, however, I began to imagine the notion of survival in relation to my own artistic practice within my newfound situation: the solitary, self-reliant yet encouraging and collaborative atmosphere of the artist residency.

Together with several fellow Van Eyck participants who I found shared my interests, we began to discuss these ideas and terms. I invited them to contribute their own perspectives for what I imagined would be pieced together into a basic survival guide.