"The Communitarians" Captures Life in a Virginian Commune

September 9, 2014

In his striking series “The Communitarians,” photojournalist Aaron Cohen documents the lives of the members of Twin Oaks, a commune in Virginia. Shot in black and white, the series is a compassionate look at Twin Oaks’ close-knit community as modernity is interwoven with long-held communal principles.

Established in 1967, the Twin Oaks commune was founded as part of the back-to-the-land movement, and continues to adhere to its founding principles of sustainability and shared labor. The commune, which is situated on 500 acres, has a population of about 100 people who gather together for lunch and dinner each day. Operating on a credit system, each member of Twin Oaks works full time in a field of their choice, from agriculture to domestic work. Through a successful tofu and hammock business, Twin Oaks earns outside revenue and is able to purchase goods which aren’t produced by the community, like coffee and rice.

Initially invited to spend a week in Twin Oaks, Cohen worked to establish trust with the community over the course of his visit. Returning several more times to photograph for “The Communitarians,” Cohen became closer to and more invested in the community. This is apparent in his work, as his images beautifully capture intimate details of everyday life in Twin Oaks.

You can find more of Aaron Cohen’s work on his website.

Images copyright Aaron Cohen, used with permission.

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