In the fall of 2014, Laiz traveled for the first time to Southeast Russia, next to the Sea of Japan, to a mountainous area of vast forests, affected by the river Amur. It was here that he acquainted himself with the culture of the Udege people.
The Udege believe that if someone attacks a tiger for no reason, a spirit called Amba will hunt them down. Legend has it that a poacher named Marakov is said to have shot but not killed a tiger many years ago. The dark spirit of the tiger was said to have been released, and, using strategy and its keen instinct, the tiger hunted Marakov and killed him.
“Animism and the relationship among nature and culture are not really new to me,” said Laiz. “I have been working on those topics for the last six years. Since the first time I got to know the story of Markov, I knew I needed to travel to the Russian Far East. I have been researching and finding my way there for the past two years, and it has not been an easy road.
“I traveled there several times between 2014 and 2015, working alongside national parks, scientists, rangers and Udege hunters. At some point the project evolved into a more complex story which involved not only the facts related to the hunter’s local culture — Markov or the tiger that killed him — but my own experience with Udege hunters like Kostya and his family. (I lived with them for one month, deep in the taiga). Kostya was killed while I was traveling back to Spain, a few hours after I photographed him for the last time, and it deeply changed the way I perceived my staying there and of course, the project.”
Laiz ‘The Hunt’ is currently on exhibit for the first time at the Cerezales Foundation in Spain.