In 2007 the United Nations issued a report stating that by the following year, for the first time ever, more than half the world’s population would live in cities. The impact that migration, globalisation and environmental change were having on rural communities seemed to be at ‘tipping-point’. Maxi-agriculture in Brazil is increasing as small land-holdings and farms are deemed unsustainable in a globalised economy. Land, which once supported small communities in India, is acquired by multi-nationals for mining. The promise of jobs and better conditions in mega-cities in China lures people from the countryside in their droves. In Australia, years of unrelenting drought are impacting agriculture and leading to the break down of surrounding rural communities. Worldwide small rural communities or villages, once a commonplace way of life, are haemorrhaging as people abandon them in search of a better life or to simply survive. Michael Coyne asked himself, “What becomes of the ones left behind?” and decided to document villages at this critical time; a time when this way of living is becoming ever more rare, and may even, one day, be lost forever. This project is not only concerned with the devastation of traditional village life – it also highlights that which sustains and enriches life in small communities. Prior to 2008 village life was the norm for more than half the world’s population. People were born, nurtured and died among family, friends and neighbours in small communities that were self-reliant and resilient. Believing this way life cannot simply disappear unnoticed Coyne’s work embodies the principle that there must be some attempt to record the seismic demographic shift currently underway. It serves as an archival record of the end of the village.
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