Far from here, where darkness lies - PhMuseum

Far from here, where darkness lies

Emilia Martin

2021 - Ongoing

Netherlands

In 1973, Chacabuco concentration camp was created in Atacama desert.

Atacama is the clearest place on Earth to watch the night sky and it was only natural that prisoners of Chacabuco formed an astronomy group.

The group was soon banned, but survivors recall to this day that observing starry nights of Atacama have been the strongest experience of freedom they have ever felt.

“when looking at the stars, we felt completely free”

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I have first become interested in topic of light pollution while driving to the Netherlands from my native Poland. I crossed German-Dutch border in the midnight, and the next thing I saw was light so intense, it fooled my senses to make me believe it was the sunlight.

I later learnt that it was the light produced by dense colony of greenhouses, and it tricked my intuition just as effectively as it tricks plants, but also insects, nocturnal animals or birds.

As a civilisation we've grown to believe that darkness is a threat. We associate it with blindness, fear, invisibility, dirt, mystery. These negative associations create fundaments for a mindset that leads species crucial for the environment to extinct, levels our melatonin in our blood dangerously low, and starry nights absent from our skies.

I turn my gaze towards the night, and believe that there may be an opportunity to turn the narrative around, to look at darkness with not fear, but fondness. My first experience of nights full of stars brings the feeling of childhood nostalgia, feeling of loss.

With my slow investigation, I discover hope for something valuable and essential to be rediscovered.

“they are lost, but also not lost but somewhere in the world” (Lydia David “Lost Things”)

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