(Rotterdam / Antoine Platekade, Rijnhavenzijde LantarenVenster)
The guilty landscape and a sense of guilt are the main motifs in Martin Effert’s (1965, Germany) photo series Bound by History, Straflager. One image renders a seemingly beautiful vista. The image meets all the historical requirements that define what ‘good’ landscape painting is about. The foreground is rendered in browns and contains a tree that opens up to the landscape. The hinterland is green and has smaller trees and in the distance traces of development can be detected, adding to the perspective. The sky has hues of pink and yellow that soften the atmosphere and hold the gaze. Straflager was made in Plazow (Krakau, Poland), which is not an ancient, sweet, pristine European landscape. Rather, it is a no man’s land that is contaminated. At this site in WWII a camp was erected where forced labour crews were forced to work in a stone quarry. Knowing this, makes this work charged with tension. Both the foreground and background are in perfect focus, which adds to the ‘harshness’ of the image. The artist builds his panorama with several photos of the chosen landscape. With his camera he scans and probes the landscape systematically to ensure that each part has the desired focus. Nowhere do eyes and mind find the tranquility to wander off in the indefinite background. History and past are poignantly present.