Hubert Humka: Death Landscapes
We often admire the beauty of surrounding landscape. We admire its landform, plants, we contemplate HERE and NOW. But if and how often we think about what actually happened in this place in the PAST? To a large extent it depends on our knowledge of the particular place’s history. But what if we don’t know anything about it?
Death Landscapes is the second book by Hubert Humka, author of the iconic work titled Evil Man (Łódź: Film School Press, 2014), a lecturer at the Łódź Film School’s Photography faculty. This time, Humka deals with the landscape, but in a typical for him way – he talks about landscapes marked by their history, contaminated landscapes. On the one hand, they are idyllic, but on the other, they contain the stigma of the events that they silently witnessed. In the seemingly immovable landscape, one can find cracks, splits, even physical scars. The traumatic events that left them were of different nature: from collective (war battle or terrorist attack) to tragedies affecting a single man (suicide or victim of a murder).
‘I chose thirteen locations and visited them on the anniversary of the events that had taken place there,’ – says Hubert Humka. – ‘Maybe it was the special aura of the places that made me take pictures of them, and their accumulated power and energy that let me record them in photographs. I tell the stories that happened there through the prism of these landscapes.’
Is the ‘Love Path’ on the small Norwegian island of Utøya still as it was before the blood of the assassin’s victims soaked in? How does the idyllic charm of the place break down in the context of trauma, leaving a stripped landscape?
But most of all, Death Landscapes is a story about man. It is an attempt to answer the question: Is a conducive intersection of time and space revealing the dark side of his/our nature? Is it possible to approach the dark truth about a man/us through landscapes?
Hubert Humka’s book contains a number of inserts that give it additional value. There is a report on the death penalty execution, a detailed plan of the site of discovery of a human corpse, and a never published before diary of a serial killer, among others.
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