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The Hunt

© Alvaro Laiz

Udege people have lived in the Boreal Jungle for hundreds of years. Due to their close contact with Nature, their beliefs are riddled with references to supernatural forces who shall be respected.
In 1997 a Russian poacher called Markov ran into the trail of a gigantic Amur tiger. Despite the risk, Markov saw the tiger,s footprints as a promise for a better life. He shot the tiger, but was not able to kill it. Udege people believe that if someone attacks a tiger without a reason, Amba will hunt him down. Unexpectedly, Markov unleashed the Amba, the dark side of the tiger.

During the following 72 hours the animal tracked down Markov and killed him. Later investigations suggest that the tiger planned its movements with a rare mix of strategy and instinct and most importantly, with a chilling clarity of purpose: Amba was seeking for revenge.

This animistic belief constitutes the leitmotiv to experience the impact of Nature inthe Udege communities across one of the last remains of shamanism: the Russian Far East hunter,s culture.


This project has been influenced by the reading of Dersu Uzala (1923), an autobiographical book in which Vladimir Arseniev narrates his research works where he explored and mapped a large part of Primorsky and his experiences in the taiga in the beginning of XX century; The Tiger, a true story of Vengeance and Survival (2011) by John Valiant, which tells about the death of a hunter called Markov after the attack of a tiger, fact that actually happened in 1997 in the same context due to the radical changes in the relationship between men and the boreal jungle, 75 years after Arseniev́s stories; and all the information in recent news in media about the relation of Udege hunters and the Amur Tiger, which has lead both to the limits of extiction.

The subsistence against the balance of ecosystems is one of the core concepts in this project and it is present, with a greater or minor importance, in some of my former series like Wonderland or Transmongolian. Around this concepts The Hunter takes a set of documents, objects, photographs videos and sounds to create a collective portrait where tracks of people, fauna, ecosystem and ways for Udegei people to trascend in the relation with nature are found. Udege means “The people form the Forest” in local dialect.

The animist cult based on observation and dialog with Nature is a way to inhabit and be in contact with the world itself. “According to them, not only people, beasts, birds, fishes and insects have soul and shadow Plants, stones, and all inanimate objects have one”, as Arseniev wrote in his book about Dersu ́s believes. This animist vision remains in natives imaginary, but as is evident throughout John Valiant́s book “The tiger, a true story of survival and vengeance”: “The spiritual and social breakdown came together with great changes in the environment”. A nana tale compiled around 105 begins: “Once upon a time, before the Russian had burned the forests... new inhabitant ́s arrival changed it all” Depopulation, social networks destabilization and deforestation product of the human action, place the few current inhabitants of the taiga in the epicenter of the Udegei tale used to open this project.

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

Dewi Lewis Publishing

£35.00 Hardback
104 pages, 45 plates

240mm x 180mm
ISBN: 978-1-911306-16-0

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