Hole, Coober Pedy, Australia. – © Antoine Bruy

Antoine Bruy was the recipient of the 2017 Emerging Photographer Fund and was granted $10,000 for this essay. Burn Magazine revolves around the EPF and it is our most important curatorial contribution to the oftentimes chaotic landscape of photography today. Most importantly, our mission is to give recognition to the finest emerging authors out there and to provide some funding to keep going and to continue making a mark.

Antoine Bruy

Outback Mythologies: The White Man’s Hole

[ EPF 2017 WINNER ]

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. The catalyst for the existence of the future town of Coober Pedy had been discovered.

Today 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. Coober Pedy makes a clean sweep of personal past to create a collective story.

“The White Man’s Hole” is the second chapter of an on-going project titled “Outback Mythologies” consisting of six chapters all taking place in the Australian Outback.

Short Bio

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: 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 publications including The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Guardian, WIRED, Slate, The Huffington Post and Le Monde. He is currently based in Lille, France.

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The Emerging Photographer Fund is supported by generous donors to the Magnum Foundation

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2 thoughts on “Antoine Bruy – Outback Mythologies”

  1. It seems as this photographer didn’t look far the place is a lot more going for it than portrayed. Maybe the photographer has a “soft underbelly”

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