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Atrocity Landscapes

War is a malignant disease, an idiocy, a prison, and the pain it causes is beyond telling or meaning; but war was our condition and our history, the place we had to live in.-- Martha Gellhorn

Places marking historical atrocities dating back to World War I in the trenches of the Somme and forts in Verdun, France to World War II and the Allied invasion of Normandy and concentration camps throughout Europe to the U.S. Civil War battlefields; all are of interest to me. The worst in human nature is still highlighted by those very places where many thousands and even millions of people perished due to war. This results in what I call an atrocity landscape.

In the absence of the people who suffered in these places, the enduring architecture of war machines, bunkers, and disfigured infrastructure creates a message that easily transcends time. The immediate horrors of the battle are covered by time, leaving memorial ground from which we are asked to remember those who sacrificed. In my photographic investigations, I ask the viewer to not simply remember, but to explore our collective historical memory of atrocity as it inhabits the landscape today. These photographs bridge the gap between the past and the present through a reinterpretation of how landscapes serve as witness to humanity’s worst conflicts.

Sondra Peron, 2015

On location atop Fort Douaumont in Verdun, France. Photo by Marta Martinez