If you’ve ever wondered what a Rainbow Gathering looks like beyond the clichs — hippies staring into the camp fire flames, LSD-enhanced visions, encounters with the Godhead — check out Canadian photographer Benoit Paille, who documents these temporary communities. Paille has spent the last three summers shooting in Canada, Mexico and Spain, hanging out with dreamers, thinkers and stinkers and assembling a fantastic collection of portraiture that sheds a more generous light on these gatherings of alternative culture and Utopian hope.
With their roots in bohemianism and hippy culture, Rainbow Gatherings are a good vibes camping experience, from small and intimate to some that attract up to 30,000 visitors. They can be big logistical affairs, like other festivals, but what they lack is the commercialization and packs of larger jocks. Instead there are expressions of harmony, freedom, with ideas and concepts of self-sufficiency and the pursuit of leading an existence, free of media, mass consumerism and money hungry capitalists. Even if it is turning off from reality for a while, it’s surprising that not more of us choose to spend a weekend barefoor at one these events. Plenty of us seem to be feeling the same hope and similar despair in the new century. If you like the sound of it and can tolerate the smell of petula oil and weed, then pack your hemp pants and head to the next world gathering, which will be held in Brazil on January 23rd 2012.