Terra Nullius, from the Latin, describes a land without an owner, an empty land. Whilst it may be inhabited, it is not actively farmed. During the colonisation of Australia by the British, the principle of Terra Nullius was evoked in a bid to legitimise the continent’s invasion.
The indigenous population was considered to be an inferior race destined to become an insignicant part of the population, perhaps even to disappear over time.
On 28th April 1770, the British explorer James Cook declared the continent Terra Nullius. This declaration paved the way for the creation of a new penal colony: between 1788 and 1868, 165.000 British convicts were sent to this new continent by boat.
Over two centuries later, in 1992, the High Court of Australia declared the country never to have been Terra Nullius and retroactively invalidated this principle following a erce battle for the recognition of Aboriginal land rights.
In 2012, Australia has a population of over 22 million inhabitants. The big majority of Australia’s population lives on the continent’s periphery in large cities such as the capital Canberra, Sydney or Melbourne.
Nevertheless, about ten percent of Australians call the centre of the country home, otherwise known as the Bush and the Outback, an area which covers over two-thirds of the territory. The following photographic essay was largely undertaken in the state of Northern Territory, where time and distance seem endless, at 360 degrees, the horizon becomes an obsessional sight.
« I crossed paths with Franck, an Aboriginal healer whose existence is centered on keeping the story of his people alive, Mike, an Australian-Maori boxer who follows in his grandfather’s footsteps by crisscrossing the desert with his tent and his boxers, an adventure which started in the 1920s. I also followed Sarah, the 24-year-old pilot who flies over the desert, Henry, the 11-year-old boy driving a 4 wheel drive, Shaun, a farmer whose dream is to visit Rome one day. Further north I went deep into the tropical vegetation of the wetlands, with Eddy for whom his native land holds no secrets. These are some of the many people who shared a fragment of their lives with me, a grain of sand from their desert. Rugged and magnificent, violent and luminous, this savage landscape and the people who live within it; a story of personal adaptation ».
In its very popular crowdfunding campaign, Terra Nullius sold 628 copies in pre-sales well exceeding the required amount set forth in the campaign.
The book is composed of 96 pages, 49 color pictures, Thread sewn, hardcover binding with square back, cloth over 2,5mm grey board with red canvas and black hotfoil stamped on the front and spine with blind embossed title on the front cover.