Photographs by Simon Norfolk.
Dewi Lewis Publishing, Stockport, 2005. 64 pp., 24 color illustrations, slipcased, 16x13".
About the Ltd Edition
It’s strange, at first, that a book this big does not contain
the kind of all-encompassing, Gursky-esque vistas
that almost demand this kind of book real estate. No,
the meditative macro views that begin Norfolk’s third
book are sheets of ice whose bubbles and pockets of
frozen nature hid a conspiracy. The secret they covered
has been the focus of ongoing forensic and political
inquiry, and is the real subject of Bleed: the mass graves
of former Yugoslavia, where Serb forces buried their
mostly Muslim victims—not once, but twice. After
learning that the UN would seek to prosecute the
participants in these widespread massacres, the Serbs
disinterred thousands of corpses and reburied them in
mass graves in more remote locations, under cover of
night. This grim innovation in the history of atrocity is
Norfolk’s worrystone, and he tells the story of the
killings, reburials and discovery of the graves through
historical comment and the careful, cinematic sequence
of these pictures. A symbolic zooming out from the ice
to undifferentiated banks of snow, to forests and soccer
fields (other reburial sites), and ultimately to the
evidence rooms of the UN investigators, the photos
almost totally eschew the kinds of signifiers that constitute
most pictures of war and its aftermath; this is a very
different project than his Afghanistan work. We are left
with the mute witness and elegant depiction of nature in
winter, an arcade of trees, a blood-red pond of
aluminum tailings. At the end of the book, two pictures—
one, a rubber glove floating under the ice, the other a
skull and a red mug among forest leaves—demonstrate
why a head-on documentary approach wasn’t chosen
for this body of work. In this sorrowful part of the world,
landscape itself is evidence. ALAN RAPP
Also available from Dewi Lewis publishing is a collectors edition of Bleed, which includes a print encased in clear plexiglass along with the slip-cased book.
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