For the second year running, Leica Camera will be the Official Partner of Photo London. Eighty-seven of the world's leading galleries will exhibit at the fair this year. Building on the success of the previous two editions, Photo London 2017 will showcase the best in contemporary and historic photography to a growing international audience of collectors and enthusiasts intrigued by the rich history of the medium and its future directions. At the third annual Photo London fair (18-21 May 2017), Leica Camera will exhibit Jacob Aue Sobol: ‘Road of Bones’, a new body of work by the Danish Magnum Photographer. Featuring photography never previously exhibited, this debut collection incorporates poignant images captured in desolate locations, including Yakutia in Russia.
All images were shot in black and white by Jacob Aue Sobol with Leica M cameras, and are immediately recognisable thanks to Sobol’s individual shooting style and distinctive visual language. Furthermore, the photographs in this collection are distinguished by their powerful, high contrast qualities characterised with deep, rich blacks.
The work portrays the ‘Kolyma Highway’, notorious for its dark and gruesome past where many Gulag prisoners fell during the period of Soviet repression, and where thousands of the victims’ skeletons still lie beneath the road. Sobol has faithfully documented the bleak landscape and its people, telling the story of a community seeming to exist in sheer defiance, in the coldest and harshest part of the inhabited world today. Indeed, the images were captured in inconceivably severe conditions, with temperatures as low as - 60° Celsius.
Jacob Aue Sobol explains more about the project: “In April 2016, I began a new journey, focusing on the residents of isolated Siberian communities established in the midst of a dark period in Russian history. From 1932 to 1953, millions of victims were sent to forced labour camps in Siberia, and one of the largest Gulag operations was the construction of the 2031 km ‘Kolyma Highway’. Built by prisoners who were literally worked to death, it connected Magadan with the mountainous interior, opening up the region to gold mining. Often, the prisoners’ corpses were buried in the foundations to protect it from the permafrost, giving the road its infamous nickname. When you drive down this highway, through the stunningly beautiful landscape, you are painfully aware of the bones beneath the surface.”
In this new exhibition, Sobol depicts the wretchedness of the route lined with abandoned villages. “Every town or village was once home to a prison camp, and it is impossible to escape the dark atmosphere of the place. Without gold mining or slave labour from the Gulag, the region would, to this day, consist entirely of vast areas of undisturbed nature, the sole inhabitants being the indigenous people and the area’s wildlife. The Russian Far East is one of the most inhospitable environments known to man.”
Karin Rehn-Kaufmann, Art Director & Chief Representative Leica Galleries International, said, “We are honoured to collaborate with Jacob Aue Sobol and to have the opportunity to exhibit ‘Road of Bones’ for the first time at this year’s Photo London. The authenticity and emotion within his images truly reflect the soul of his subjects, imprinting the scenes deeply into the memory of the viewer. Leica is synonymous with exceptional photography that captures the absolute essence of the subject, and this body of work is a perfect example, carefully exposing the harrowing history of this virtually forgotten location. It also reveals the harsh reality of its current predicament, bringing it to the attention of the wider world.”
The exhibition will take place in the Navy Board Room at Somerset House. A series of special talks, appearances and book signing events are scheduled, as follows:
Jacob Aue Sobol book signings (Leica lounge at the Navy Board Room)
Friday 19 May, 15.00-16.00
Saturday 20 May, 14.00-15.00
Sunday 21 May, 15.00-16.00
Biography: Jacob Aue Sobol (featured photographer)
Jacob Aue Sobol was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1976. After studying at the European Film College, Jacob was admitted to Fatamorgana, the Danish School of Documentary and Art Photography in 1998. There he developed a unique, expressive style of black and white photography, which he has since refined and further developed. His work has been nominated for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize, and his series about life in Guatemala won the First Prize Award, Daily Life Stories, World Press Photo 2006. In 2008, Sobol was honoured with the Leica European Publishers' Award for his book, I, Tokyo. He then went on to work in Bangkok and Copenhagen, and has exhibited his work all over the world.
About Photo London
Photo London was created to give London an international photography event befitting the city's status as a global cultural capital. Founded in 2015, it has already established itself as a world-class photography fair and as a catalyst for London's dynamic photography community. From the capital's major museums to its auction houses, galleries large and small, right into the burgeoning creative community in the East End and South London, Photo London harnesses the city's outstanding creative talent and brings the world's leading photographers, curators, exhibitors and dealers together with the public to celebrate photography, the medium of our time. Photo London 2017 also features an expanded 'Discovery' section - a showcase for emerging galleries, publishers and artists, curated for the first time by Art Consultant and Curator Tristan Lund.