26th January 1974: Gudmunder Einarsson, aged only 18, goes missing amid a heavy snow storm. He is last seen walking the ten kilometres from Hafnarfjordur, a small harbour town south of Reykjavik to his home. Obviously intoxicated, he was spotted by two drivers stumbling along the roadside.
Hampered by bad weather, search parties failed to find any trace of his body in the following days.
19th November 1974: Geifinnur Einarsson, aged 32, receives a mysterious phone call while at home with his family. He promptly drives to the harbour cafe in Keflavik, parks his car leaving the keys in the ignition. He never returns.
Despite a nationwide investigation, detectives can find no evidence or motive for his sudden disappearance.
The project Sugar Paper Theories follows the trail of an intriguing and captivating Icelandic true crime case; now so deeply ingrained in the social history of the country, where once it was referred to as ‘The Nations Nightmare’, it is now mentioned in hushed undertones as ‘The Nations Shame’.
Here, along with a selection of my images, and images from the police archives we look at Saevar Ciesielski; always viewed by the Icelandic police as an outsider, he was a petty criminal with a foreign surname and a delicate physique. He was arrested with his girlfriend Erla Bolladottir on unrelated charges near the end of yet another failing police investigation into two seemingly unrelated disappearances.
He, Erla and four others eventually signed confessions admitting to the murders of Gudmunder and Geifinnur and were convicted over two years after the disappearances with no hard evidence submitted during trial.
What happened to Saevar and his friends in the intervening time is hardly believable given that serious miscarriages of justice in Britain have been so publicly overturned in the past, (think Guilford Four, Birmingham Six), the irony of ‘Reykjavik Confessions’ is that it set the president for both those subsequent retrials, and the imminent criminal psychologist Gil Gudjonsson who fought so hard for justice began his career as an investigating police officer working on Geifinnur Einarsson’s disappearance.
The project mixes new photographs made by myself with archival images and records, writing and mixed media composition in an attempt to investigate and understand the story whilst giving a glimpse into the dream-like landscapes of Iceland and the unseen elvish creatures, or Huldufolk, that inhabit them; they reflect the nightmarish reality that was faced by these six innocent people when their memories were compromised and confused by the police. They became victims in their own right, swallowed by the certainty and necessity of others, eventually disappearing into the landscape of the past, now only a fading memory for most.
Jack is a freelance photographer, born and raised in Wales, now living and working in Brighton. Jack graduated from the highly regarded Documentary Photography course at Newport University, South Wales in 2012. His work is presented in a mixture of large format photography and digital film making.
While his early influences point towards a clearly defined documentary style in his work with a photojournalistic approach, his projects have a more contemporary nuanced feel to them and his work is filled with ‘consideration and atmosphere’. Jack’s photographs have been published and exhibited widely, with The Financial Times, Another Escape, VICE, New African Analysis and the BBC being just some of the outlets that have carried his various projects. In April 2015 he was awarded the Magnum/Ideastap Photographic Award. Jack continues to work and exhibit both in the UK and internationally.
In addition to his own photographic practice, Jack co-curates the "Miniclick" event series, a Brighton based photography organisation that picked him as one of five from ‘2012’s Graduates to Watch’. Jack is also a founding member and contributor to the Welsh photography collective "A Fine Beginning" which has been exhibiting across the UK through out 2013-2014.