‘The Defenders’ is a joint project by photographers Victoria Baker and Davina Jogi, which juxtaposes formal portraits of the local Bush Fire Brigade volunteers with elements of their natural environment in the southwest Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes.
Imagined as a response to the cataclysmic 2019 Australian bushfire season, the series combines formal portraiture and documentary work. These are not the typical images of crisis that characterize bushfire reportage but of day-to-day realities. The work draws on Janet Roitman’s concept of “anti-crisis” – what are the stakes of crisis? If crisis entails reference to a norm, what is the norm for people who chose to accept the annual threat of bushfire to their lives and homes?
‘The Defenders’ presents an insider perspective of WA’s unique voluntary bushfire service as it faces the increased challenges of a lengthening fire season and an ageing volunteer base. The intention is to highlight the unseen, ordinary people whose livelihoods, families, and history are as invested in the Australian bush as they are devastated by it.
The project was supported through a 2021 Resilience Grant from Regional Arts WA which funded a 3-month mentorship with award-winning, Australian photographic artist Aletheia Casey to assist in developing the work.