A journey with Ivan transcends writing and photography. Of course, he shows you where he is, through words and images. But that’s just an entrée. When I read his work, I’m carried into a full tactile experience. I feel the heat of substrate warming my feet. I hear the whoop and whistle of water dancing around rocks as it migrates permanently downstream. I feel Ivan’s adrenaline, the electric tension upon sighting a catfish lurking between rocks. I taste the air, heavy with chirruping bugs.
Conservation relies on empathy for what is being conserved. Empathy relies on communication. Ivan is one of nature’s great translators, communicating to the senses the very emotions of animals, plants, even the land. ‘We are here,’ they say through him. ‘We are here and we matter.’
In an age where many explorers are more interested in their own egos than the habitats they’re trespassing upon, it is a rare find to read discovery narratives tinged with an undercurrent of guilt. ‘I shouldn’t be here,’ Ivan suggests so often, so unwittingly in his work. ‘I shouldn’t be here, but I have to be.’
That is how you describe Ivan Mikolji. The man is a living documentary.
Associate Editor of Practical Fishkeeping Magazine, UK