Álvaro Laiz (b.1981) is a Spanish photographer and artist whose work deals with narratives where traditional culture, nature and industrial development converge. Since 2014 he has committed himself to exploring the links between our distant past...
Deer-man. “It was still a time when a Udege, looking at a deer, he thought he saw a deer-man (...) When he saw a tiger, he thought he saw a tiger-man. In those times all sort of things happened to people. Such things happened that nowadays do not”. Udege tale
Book of poems. Sikhoté- Alin Mountains.“There is only one path to eternal peaceBut, will you love me? Although in the casket I do not posses condemna- tion my corpse you shall lonvingly find beyond the coffin... yes? ... you will deceive me?”
Lev Jomenko, hunter and herbalist from Lesopil`noye. While on a hunting trip he spotted the tracks of a wounded tiger and decided to follow them. He didn ́t have far to go. Apparently, the tiger swatted Jomenko in the face with its paw, leaving hum unconscious in the ground. Then the tiger picked hum up in his jaws and shook him like a rag doll, so violently that it broke his wrist and both of his legs. Then the tiger walked away from there. That day the temperature was minus forty-five. When the loggers found him his body was rigid as an ice statue. Vernacular image.
Siberian roe-deer. Animals like deers or wild hogs can weigh up to 400 kilos, so the hunter must dismember the prey and take it to his hunting cabin in several trips. In the meantime the hunter must hide his prey from other predators such us bears and, specially, tigers. Some udege hunters still hold a practice, in between of folklore and practical need, of giving away some parts of their prey, such us the head or visceras to the tiger to keep it away and avoid unwanted encounters.
Edvard Niekrasov was attacked by a tigress a decade ago. He shot and killed a tiger during a hunting trip but he did not realize there was a tigress as well. The tigress took a swipe on his face, deforming his face. "We were following the tracks of a deer when we realize a tiger was almost in front of us. I didn´t think twice and shoot and killed the animal. I was excited and ran towards the animal to check on it without realizing there was a female tiger hidden by its side. Then she leaped on me… I remember her eyes out of the socket staring at me when she took a swipe at my face. Luckily my nephew was able to chase the tigress away before she finished me. I should never did what I did and I paid a high price for it..."
“A man came in the morning. He told (my husband) had been attacked by atiger. I yelled at him: Why did you not brought him here? I thought he was alive... He asked quietly there was nothing left... The tiger took hum into the taiga and ate him. They only found one of his legs. Days after we put it into a coffin and buried him properly. It was december the 3rd of 1997... he has been gone for so long”. Tamara Borisova, Vladimir Markov´s widow.
Udege people have lived in the Boreal Jungle for hundreds of years. Due to their close contact with Nature, their beliefs are riddled with references to supernatural forces who shall be respected. In 1997 a Russian poacher called Markov ran into the trail of a gigantic Amur tiger.Despite the risk, Markov saw the tiger ́s footprints as a promise for a better life. He shot the tiger, but was not able to kill it. Udege people believe that if someone attacks a tiger without a reason, Amba will hunt him down. Unexpectedly, Markov unleashed the Amba, the dark side of the tiger.
During the following 72 hours the animal tracked down Markov and killed him. Later investigations suggest that the tiger planned its movements with a rare mix of strategy and instinct and most importantly, with a chilling clarity of purpose: Amba was seeking for revenge.
This animistic belief constitutes the leitmotiv to experience the impact of Nature inthe Udege communities across one of the last remains of shamanism: the Russian Far East hunter ́s culture.
Developed with the support of Fundación Cerezales and Ideas Tap & Magnum Foundation