Bar Tur Photobook Award Jack Latham : Sugar Paper Theories

The Photographers’ Gallery in collaboration with Here Press and Amnon and Armon Bar-Tur are delighted to announce the publication and launch of Sugar Paper Theories by Jack Latham (b. 1989, UK) at a special event held at the Gallery, 6 September 2016.

Art Launch previously on at The Photographers' Gallery in Greater London, United Kingdom.
From Tuesday 06 September 2016 to Tuesday 06 September 2016

Bar Tur Photobook Award Jack Latham : Sugar Paper Theories image Bar Tur Photobook Award Jack Latham : Sugar Paper Theories image Bar Tur Photobook Award Jack Latham : Sugar Paper Theories image

Published by anonymous on Thursday 07 July 2016.
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Latham is the second winner of the Gallery’s Bar Tur Photobook Award, a significant prize, which offers an emerging photographer the opportunity to work with an independent publisher to produce their first book.

Latham’s winning project, Sugar Paper Theories, traces an infamous true crime case in Iceland. Known as Geirfinnsmálið or the Gudmundur and Geirfinnur Case, it involved the testimonies of six people, who confessed to two murders they had no apparent memory of. In 1974, Icelandic police were left baffled by the disappearances of two unrelated individuals: 18-year-old Gudmundur Einarsson and 32-year-old family man, Geirfinnur Einarsson. Set ten months and fifty kilometres apart no connection was established between the two cases. Extensive searches and investigations followed but failed to yield any physical evidence or explanations. Wild theories about the disappearances, fed by Iceland’s anxieties over smuggling drugs and alcohol, began to spread, drawing the attention of high level officials and politicians.

In December 1975, police arrested petty criminal Saevar Ciesielski and his girlfriend Erla Bolladottir for an unrelated minor offence. Encouraged by unsubstantiated rumours, officers decided to treat the two as prime suspects in both disappearances. Following a prolonged and intense period of interrogation Ciesielski and Bolladottir confessed to the murders while also implicating three of their closest male friends and another acquaintance. Eventually all six signed statements attesting to their roles in the murders which – with no bodies or any other proof linking the six to the case – served as the only evidence against them in trial.

In the years following their convictions and prison sentences, details of the investigation emerged. These revealed systematic physical and mental torture and drugging resulting in what one leading forensic psychologist referred to as ‘Memory Distrust Syndrome’ or memory implantation. In 2011 a government task force assembled to review the original police inquiry, concluded the six confessions to be unreliable and recommended a retrial of the case. Today the affair is considered by many as one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in the history of the Icelandic legal system.

For Sugar Paper Theories Latham explores the case using a mix of archival police images and material, diary entries by one of the suspects, portraits of whistle blowers, conspiracy theorists and expert witnesses alongside ghostly snow covered landscape photographs of locations related to the case. Together these all convey the sinister nature of the events that took place and the fog of memory and ambiguity still surrounding them.

A detailed written account of the case is provided by Professor Gisli Gudjusson CBE. A former Reykjavik policeman involved in the original investigation, Gudjusson is a leading forensic psychologist known for his work on Memory Distrust Syndrome. His expert testimony previously helped free the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four and is now central the ongoing Gudmundor and Geirfinnur inquiry.

Sugar Paper Theories is due to publish 6 September 2016. Priced at £35 it will be available to purchase from The Photographers’ Gallery, Here Press and selected UK and international bookshops.