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Wilderness Survival Guide: A Guide to the Aesthetics of Survivalism, Anna Bak


"Wilderness Survival is intended as a basic guide for life in the wilderness. The wilderness can be envisaged as both a physical space and a mental state. As such, this book strives for a theoretical, practical, and philosophical understanding of the survivalist lifestyle. A guide to surviving either real or speculative dangers, the texts in this publication—which range from an extensive guidebook to short stories to essays to artists’ writings—reflect on survivalism as a poetic, contemporary, historical, social, and creative lifestyle choice. Together, they offer insights into some of the main problems and challenges faced in the wilderness while at the same time providing the reader with the basic tools to handle these situations in preparation for his or her future survival.
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." - Anna Bak

Editor: Anna Bak
Texts by:
Anna Bak
Niels Henriksen
Francois Dey
Joris Lindhout
Padraic E. Moore

• Softcover
• 5 ½ x 8 inches
• 144 pages / 14 b&w and 30 color
• Edition of 750