This year we decided we should start sharing a full article or snippet of one originally published in The Quarterly We thought it be nice to kick it off with one of our favourites from issue one by River Roni, titled EDEN.

Photography by River Roni Words by River Roni & Grant Holmes

This series of photographs was created in response to a topic which I think contrasts well with the issues surrounding censorship. I wanted to convey the dark practices and at times painful experiences that some people put themselves through in the name of religion and worship of their god or gods. Some believe that suffering through pain and violence is a path to redemption in the eyes of their religion, a practice that bears more following than you might expect, given its prominence on the internet with a simple search of the term “religion and violence”.

This led me to begin exploring what I see myself as, in a society of lost groups of people. People who have simply lost their way. The “modern” world is a capitalist machine chasing riches at the expense of millions worldwide. As a society we are chasing riches. Chasing a cancer that will lead to our own demise.

Fame and fortune has contorted into an aspiration people spend their whole lives chasing and trying to achieve. They chase the dream, striving for the limelight, when what they actually strive for is love and attention. The most basic of human needs.

Love is a powerful tool that can be used to start revolutions and change the human spirit. 

In stark contrast to that, the majority of the population still belong to what we label “the third world”. These people are fed misguided truths and ways of life, when all they really need is love and to be loved. Love is a powerful tool that can be used to start revolutions and change the human spirit. Everything else is just creating chaos.This man made cancer is constantly attacking the human cells of the world in which we reside, until we destroy ourselves from within. Nothing will be left.

I got married a few months ago now. And as I think of one day starting a family I inevitably, as every mother does, think to the future. What world am I going to be raising them in? How do I teach my own children to find peace and spread love? I have no answers yet i’m afraid to say. How can I have the answers when I myself cannot seem to find the same peace and have yet to discover a place in all the chaos to call home.

As a characteristic, naivety is becoming extinct. Children today are raised to be shallow and as ego driven as well oiled politicians. You see it walking down the street, the cloud of ignorance that has consumed us. Twelve year old girls walk by in see-through leggings or shorts so high you can see inappropriate parts of them. All that while having no clue as to the reactions of people around them when they see it. And thats not to say you’re a paedophile for looking at them as they walk by. They grow up to be women, with zero self esteem and no confidence to embrace all aspects of femininity and all its power and energy.

Religion told us that sex was bad and dirty. That’s when it became taboo, leading people to become inhibited, self conscious and extremely scared and uncomfortable. That poisoned view of natural human behaviour has led to many becoming confused, leaving the path we think is wrong to travel dirt roads so we won’t be seen. In doing so, we become lost.

I inevitably, as every mother does, think to the future. What world am I going to be raising them in? How do I teach my own children to find peace and spread love?

I wanted to take my photographs back to a time when everything was good and everything was light. Full of love. Nothing was dirty or kinky, it just was what it was. All is acceptable, beautiful and above all, human. All cravings, lusts, needs, wants and desires are met with no inhibition or premeditated thought. A place where as long as we stay on that road of goodness and wellbeing within ourselves, sexually or not. We are loved and spread that love.

Censorship is like a tree, bearing the forbidden fruit on its branches, but keeping them out of reach. You know it’s there, but you can’t taste it. People too insecure with their own existence made these rules for others to follow, giving reasons of god’s word and their interpretations of what it would want for humanity.

The halos featured above Jesus and angels in many renaissance paintings have been a particular inspiration for this series. For me they symbolise life, and this is reflected in my photos. The feeling of virtue in my photos tells a story of humanity being holy regardless of religion. In a glorious time where love between each other is not inhibited by religion. Being alive is a gift and the only thing sure about our existence is that it will end. We live our lives choosing to ignore that wonderful fact.