Land of God [longterm project]

There is a community in the far south of France in the middle of nowhere surrounded by magnificent natural features: gardens, animals, forests, rivers, and neighboring areas speckled with small and large buildings. There, you will find a kitchen, shared rooms, apartments, garages and an old stove, burning 24 hours a day to heat up water and the rooms. A pleasant smell of burned wood hangs over the forested hills of this area.

Most of the approximately 120 residents with different nationalities, are men and woman who are about 40+ years old. Those people here are mainly not here because they want to avoid living in the system, but because this is their last chance to live in a community. Some of them came of their own free will, others were forced by circumstances. Here, one finds all kinds of people: poor, weak, illegal, criminal, veteran, drug addict and any kind of other background. Singles, couples and whole families are all mixed together at this one place and committed to the community’s minimal but clear rules.

This place was founded more than 25 years ago by a Frenchman named Gyu and his wife. The people even beyond the borders of France call it: “Land of God”. Gyu believes that God spoke to him more than 30 years ago and gave him this place and the people as a life task; “Every heart can change, no matter what happened in the past”. Here everyone deserves another chance! Anyone knocking on closed doors elsewhere, is welcomed here.

Land of God is the working title of a longterm project I started in summer 2015. I moved into this community for the first time for two months to live and work together with these people. I wanted to know this unique place, to let the people who live here tell me the thoughts of their lives and witness how people might change.