Clear of People by Michał Iwanowski
Designed by Tom Mrazauskas
Published by Brave Books
Michał Iwanowski’s photobook Clear of People retraces a journey, originally made in 1945 by the artist’s grandfather and uncle, through a politically charged and precarious landscape.
The 2,200 km fugitive odyssey began in Kaluga, Russia, where the two brothers had spent a year in a prisoner-of-war camp. Their daring escape was followed by a three month trek. Struggling against constant cold, hunger and exhaustion, they moved under the cover of the night, avoiding any contact with people. Driven by their longing to return home, and having escaped death on numerous occasions, they eventually made it to Wroclaw, Poland, where they were reunited with their family.
70 years later, Michal Iwanowski returned to Russia with a map and notes inherited from his uncle. He embarked on a similar journey, faithfully retracing every step, with a camera as his sole comrade. And just like Tolek and Wiktor had, he steered clear of people along the way.
It seems that in recent years the notion of the journey within landscape photography is more frequently focusing on personal rather than global stories, bringing to attention individual experiences and narratives that are otherwise often lost. I find this very refreshing.
-- Michal Iwanowski
t was haunting to discover that some elements of the landscape have not changed in the last 70 years. My uncle described a railway bridge leading into Kozielsk where they had been ambushed and my grandfather was shot. As I stood on that bridge, I could see exactly where that scene had taken place. That was a moment of intense connection.
-- Michal Iwanowski, read more in his Footsteps of history published by Calvert Journal.
Michal Iwanowski (*1977) is a Cardiff-based photographer and a Ffotogallery tutor. He studied Documentary Photography at the University of Wales, Newport, graduating in 2008. Iwanowski’s work explores the relationship between landscape and memory, looking for histories, individuals and traces about to fade.
Tom Mrazauskas (*1980) is a Berlin-based book designer working since 2008. His works won several awards in international book design competitions and earned a special mention in Paris Photo / Aperture Foundation PhotoBook of the Year Award 2014.