Throughout history, people have dug labyrinths into the depths of the earth to extract precious metals and rock, often paying the ultimate price. In the rich Sudetes Mountains, which stretch across 250km over the border between Poland and Czech Republic, mining shifted completely in the 1950s from searching for marble, gold, copper, opal, and coal, into becoming a political weapon. Uranium ore deposits found in old shafts and Stalin’s obsession with building a nuclear bomb led to the over-exploitation of Polish miners, old mines and the region, with tragic consequences.

Photographer Michal Sierakowski captured the beauty of the landscape as well as the signs (and sins) of the past in his ‘Uranium’ series. Victims of the mountain and of the secret police, a buried city, villages erased from existence, and years of suffering give the area a mysterious atmosphere. They also explain the numerous legends and stories which still circulate through local villages. A stillness that goes beyond the photographs’ two-dimensional format permeates the images, whether it’s the abandoned building surrounded by trees, the old church lit by the rosy glow of the sun or the human figures exploring the picturesque landscape. The photographer graduated from the University of Arts in Poznań, Poland with a degree in Photography in 2015, the same year he won a LensCulture Emerging Talent award. You can see more of his work on his Instagram page. Photo credits: Michal Sierakowski.

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