Eddo Hartmann – The Sacrifice Zone


Huis Marseille presents Eddo Hartmann’s latest multimedia project, The Sacrifice Zone. For his latest project Hartmann visited the inhospitable steppe of Kazakhstan. Until a few years ago this country was a blind spot on the world map for the general public. Kazakhstan is by far the largest country in Central Asia, and until 1991 it was an important republic within the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, in utmost secrecy and well out of sight of the rest of the world, parts of this steppe were turned into an immense open-air laboratory. For decades, and with no consideration for the local population, the area formed an ill-fated decor for the most destructive nuclear tests ever held on the surface of the earth. The recent show of force by Russia’s current rulers has given this historic episode an unexpected and painful contemporary relevance.

Armed with a tripod, a medium-format camera, and an essential Geiger counter, Eddo Hartmann visited the affected area, which now bears the illustrious name ‘The Polygon’, in different seasons. Over the years he documented both the tormented landscape and the people who live there. He portrayed those who had directly witnessed this history but also the generations that followed, who have found different ways of dealing with the past. The portraits, landscapes and films that Hartmann made for this project often have a surrealistic mood and sometimes evoke a sensory experience in the viewer. The texture of brick, crumbling asphalt, broken earth, flaking paint, barbed wire, scorched grass, and water in strange craters invites us to not only to observe in detail, but also to feel.

With The Sacrifice Zone Hartmann focuses his lens specifically on the hidden history of a country. The notion of photography as testimony has existed almost since the invention of photography itself. A photographic image can not only freeze an event in time, confronting us many years later with the depiction of an historical event, but it can also reveal traces of the past that would otherwise remain invisible. It is this capacity to reveal the unseen, even long after the actual events have taken place, that currently holds an important place in Hartmann’s oeuvre.

This publication was published on the occasion of the exhibition of the same name at Huis Marseille, on view from 28 October 2023 to 25 February 2024.

Eddo Hartmann (The Hague, 1973) photographer and teacher, studied Photographic Design at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. His career now spans more than 25 years. He is best known for his striking and thought-provoking images of architecture and urban spaces. He started working as an editorial and commissioned photographer, but later switched to long-term documentary projects. Hartmann’s photography has been acclaimed and exhibited internationally. His work has been acquired for several collections, including those of Huis Marseille, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the AMC in Amsterdam, and the Kunstmuseum in The Hague.

  • Eddo Hartmann – The Sacrifice Zone
  • Hannibal Books
  • Hardcover
  • Design: Tim Bisschop
  • 144 pages
  • Texts: Olga Annanurova, Naubet Bisenov & Eddo Hartmann
  • 27 x 35 cm
  • ISBN 978-94-6466-660-1

Eddo Hartmann – The Sacrifice Zone



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