Landscape of Murder

Antonio Zazueta Olmos
Last night I attended the opening of a photographic show by Mexican-born photographer Antonio Zazueta Olmos, based in London since 1994 and well known for his work for The Observer and other publications, and now for workshops in street photography he has led as a part of the Guardian Masterclass series.

The Landscape of Murder, on show at Rich Mix on London’s Bethnal Green Road until 30th May 2015 is the distillation of a remarkable project by Tony, in which he photographed the location of every one of the 210 murders that took place in London within the M25 over the two years 2011-2012. Rich Mix is more or less opposite Shoreditch Station, and a short walk or bus ride from Liverpool St.

A small crime at Rich Mix – Tony loses a hand

I wrote in 2010, before he began the project about his contribution to one of the best evenings at London’s Photoforum, and in particular the advice he passed on that ‘if you find yourself surrounded by photographers when taking pictures, you are almost certainly in the wrong place.’ in 2013, in a post Murder & Masterclass I looked briefly at some reports of his street photography classes and his Landscape of Murder project, recommending the dedicated web site, where you can see many of the images in this show.

But it was soon recovered

Sean O’Hagan

I won’t write much about the show itself, as you can read the text written by The Guardian’s Sean O’Hagan, who was present at the opening. A longer version of that article appears as the foreword in the book ‘The Landscape of Murder‘ which includes 79 of the images, along with a short text giving some details of the crime which also accompany the scenes on the wall at Rich Mix. The show there has very much fewer pictures on the wall and is perhaps stronger for it, though a few of my favourites from the book are missing. There is a projection in the rather dim mezzanine space where the show is held, and as seems to be usual for such things they were quite noticeably out of focus.

Although Rich Mix has hosted a few good photography shows, I get the impression that their heart is not really in it (for example see my comments in Paul Trevor at Rich Mix.) It’s centre is cinema, and those going into the cinema will walk past Olmos’s picture and I’m sure many will stop and look – as Tony tells me they were when he was there to help with the hanging. The lighting on some of the works is a little too dim, a shame as they seem superbly printed. But Rich Mix is a lively and stimulating arts centre that hosts many great events, and it’s good to see another fine photography show there, ad very bad news that the future of this place is now under threat – as indeed after yesterdays election results so much else is too.

London isn’t a violent city. It’s one I’ve walked around for 40 years and seldom felt at risk – and then mostly from riot police. The book ends with a short analysis by crime reporter and author Peter Stubley of murders in London and then details of all the 210 murders, along with thumbnails of Olmos’s images of the scenes.  The end papers present a map of the area marked with the locations – which is far more effective as a single large map in red on the gallery wall.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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