Tierra quemada - obscure photographies from the ashes

Thomas Kellner: Tierra quemada - obscure photographies from the ashes, 1993

 

In 1993, I spent my summer working in south of Spain. Both the summer and working on pinhole photography were ideal for me. It was also ideal for all the alternative printing processes such as saltprint and cyanotype. So usually I travelled with all of my equipment including a basic darkroom.

One day, my girlfriend and I were at the beach when we saw big black clowds inland. There was a fire somewhere as it sometimes happens in Southern European summers. As we drove home, we got closer and closer to the grey-green-black and dusty clouds. The light became darker and darker had a strange shiny colour at the same time. Was it the sunset or was it a glooming fire? - It was the fire and the firemen were directly behind our house. Everyone should evacuate, they said. The fire was one of these very huge fires that crosses mountains and rivers. After dusk, the sky turned deep red, and indeed, the flames crossed the top of the mountain in the back of our house and krept down the hill.

It stopped sometime during the night, after we had fallen asleep on our packed suitcases.

The next day we were very curiousand directly after breakfast, we walked into this moon-like landscape. Everything was grey, smoke was still rising out of the ground - from the roots of weak and fast-burning pine trees. Nearly nothing was left. Stones, some black branches and everything else were covered with grey ashes. That's where I started my very first project in photoghraphy. Pinhole pictures from the ashes of a burned landscape.