Álvaro Laiz

6x6 Europe Talent: Álvaro Laiz, Spain

“Álvaro Laiz has found his unique way of expressing himself by concentrating on the complex relationship between man and nature, shifting between conflict and fascination. He tries to focus on realities that are usually ignored by the mass media. Every image is like a poem with a structure, and just like a poem, his images compress an emotional experience.” - Ruth Eichhorn, Germany, freelance photo editor and curator and 6x6 nominator.

Álvaro Laiz is a Spanish photographer and artist whose work deals with narratives where traditional culture, nature and industrial development converge. Álvaro’s work has been recognized by a number of institutions including Magnum, Ideas Tap Foundation, Burn Photography, Visura, Photolucida and Center Santa Fe. He is also the recipient of the 2016 National Geographic Explorer’s Grant for his ongoing project ‘The Edge’.

The Edge

‘The Edge’ is a long-term project that documents the extremely close relationship between humans, culture and nature in one of the most hostile places in the world, the Bering Strait.

It is conceived as a journey following the steps of the hunter populations who some believe migrated through the Bering Strait Bridge 20,000 years ago, becoming the first settlers in America. The Chukchi people, who have been inhabiting Chukotka for thousands of years, are deeply attached to their traditional way of life, which includes reindeer herding or sea mammal hunting.

This project combines written testimonies, video, photography and DNA research with the aim to create a visual map of the Bering Strait inhabitants capturing the lives of the communities and, above all, to reflect on our role in the planet we inhabit.Ann Sophie Lindström’s work focuses on communities of people who are mostly ignored in society and who create a kind of substitute family for each other. Her personal projects have been supported through grants from Centre National de l’Audiovisuel in Luxembourg, Œuvre Nationale de Secours Grande-Duchesse Charlotte and Stiftung Kulturwerk der VG Bild-Kunst. Her work has been awarded in CPOY, POYi and the VGH-Preis.

The Hunter

Udege people have lived in the Boreal Jungle for hundreds of years. Due to their close contact with nature, many of their beliefs reference supernatural forces.

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. Traditionally, Udege people believe that if someone attacks a tiger without a reason, Amba–the dark side of the tiger–will hunt the individual down.

Over the following 72 hours, the animal tracked down Markov and killed him. Later investigations suggest that the tiger planned its movements with a mix of strategy and instinct and, most importantly, purpose. The belief that Amba was seeking revenge constitutes the leitmotiv to experience the impact of nature in the Udege communities across one of the last remains of shamanism: the hunter ́s culture.

Discover work by the 6x6 Europe talents, and find out about 6x6’s nomination and selection process.