Deep in Southwest Alaska, surrounded by mosquito and grizzly bear infested tundra, lies an abandoned salmon cannery known locally as Graveyard Point. The cannery sits at the mouth of the Kvichak River, one of the five rivers that empty into Bristol Bay, home to North America’s last great sockeye salmon run. During the months of June and July, about 130 commercial fishermen from around the country converge there to set up seasonal fishing residences in broken down dormitories and dilapidated shacks that have sat empty for decades. Old coffins from the point erode into the sea and the bones of unnamed fisherman collect at the tides edge. Dogs roam the beach chasing bears and four wheelers. The fishing work happens at a furious pace when tens of millions of sockeye salmon arrive within the same couple weeks every year on a mission to spawn. Men and woman work 20 hours a day pulling nets by hand from small open skiffs. In the end, great fortunes can be earned or lost, depending on the fisherman’s skill or luck and the avoidance of injury. I found my first work as a commercial fisherman near here in 1995. Today, I operate a set gillnet skiff and make my living picking fish at Graveyard Point. The photographs are a visual journal of my experience living here. Graveyard is a very unique and special community of characters who’s future is threatened by the upstream discovery of a massive copper and gold deposit. The Pebble Mine and its toxic tailings, if built, could eventually decimate the wild salmon population forever.
Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze is a French photographer born in France. He grew up in Paris suburbs until he moved abroad in 2008. Originally dedicated to visual art, his interest in photography started to prevail after his arrival in Hong Kong. Living in the heart of Kowloon since 2009, he directly felt bond to this place unique for its density and vibrancy. His first attempt of recording his new home took the form of the project Vertical Horizon released in 2012 as a photo book. It has been featured in major publications in UK, France, Spain, USA, China and Hong Kong. The photo book has been then reprinted as a second edition in 2014. Romain is currently working on his newer photography projects focused on Hong Kong and the several aspects of its unmatched urban development.
© All images courtesy of the artist
In the morning through the window shade
When the light pressed up against your shoulder blade
I could see what you were reading
Oh, the glory that the Lord has made
And the complications you could do without,
When I kissed you on the mouth
© Joram Nathanael
I don’t do well with conflict. But when you’re making such an outstanding effort to repeatedly hit me over the head with your bullshit I’m not going to sit idly… I can’t. I’d combust. Because that’s what you’re choosing to be? I’ve seen you be gorgeous, and you’ve turned yourself into this cowardly, childish nothing. You’d rather run (yes, you literally ran), than feel something real—something relevant to your existence. You could recognize the opportunity stabilize yourself, but you’re too afraid to change—what if it got worse? What if you lost your sense of belonging to such an extent that the tiny fragments of detached feelings you’ve found in books and movies and far away people won’t be enough to prop you up anymore? What if you lose the ability to be forced through the motions by your blind, vaguely rationalized, inconsistent hatred? I was there too. I think you should choose differently.