"David Ellingsen’s photographs are self-portraits of a man intimately relating to his natural world. The vulnerability of the figure, and the subtly supernatural and mythic elements, illustrate humankind’s inviolable connection to the natural world; a connection that is obfuscated by modern values. Ellingsen’s work serves as a potent reminder of that connection at a time when anthropogenic devastation of the planet is a catastrophic threat. Where that loss of connection manifests as a sense of humankind’s dominion over nature, Ellingsen’s work acts as a solvent, unravelling the mantle of detachment by modelling his own transformational process."

- excerpt from exhibition statement, Parker Projects, Vancouver Canada

Artist Statement

"Created over a 10 year period alongside other projects, these photographs are a form of art therapy for an artist on intimate terms with the daily avalanche of dire environmental issues and the ponderous pace of human response.

Contextualized within our fraught relationship with the living planet, the Solastalgia trilogy reflects on emotional response to the anthropogenic destruction of the environments, natural systems and inhabitants of the planet. Ultimately, I am looking towards a redefinition of humanity’s relationship with them - although there are many days now when the task does seem insurmountable. These in-situ self-portraits return me to my youth on remote Cortes Island - a formative period at the edge of the wild.

From a distance the groupings in all three projects are not immediately obvious as one body multiplied, but is revealed upon closer inspection. Individual appears communal, but is in fact rather a multiplication, or intensification, of the self. I am interested in the value our culture places on the self: are there connections as we witness a simultaneous decline in the well-being of the entire planetary community?

Scaling my own body within expansive environments in Future Imperfect, I endeavour to make photographs where the land holds dominion and humans literally inhabit a smaller space in the natural world. The mimicking of herds, pods, flocks, and so on, provides connection to the planet’s other inhabitants, while reflecting themes of individual and communal.

The photographs in Alone Together were made during a period of rising urgency as the window rapidly closes on humanity’s ability to mitigate the worst of climate change. These images reflect emotional states in the search for answers.

The most recent collection, Absent Presence, focuses in on human relationship with the other inhabitants of the earth as we witness the beginnings of the sixth mass extinction event in the planet’s 4.5 billion year history. This event is historically unusual in its cause – the actions of a single species - equating human civilization's insatiable consumption with the cataclysm of volcanic eruption or asteroid strike. As the evaporation of life intensifies, it is the conscious awareness of the resulting absence, and the grieving that rightfully follows, that can lead to new motivations in the battle for species’ survival, our own among them."

- D.E., June 2022