On January 1, 2011 a young woman by the name of Jitka Naholidova was killed by her long-term boyfriend. Jitka lived near me in Southgate, north London. When I first found out about the murder, my curiosity got the better of me and I went to see where it had taken place. It took me a while to locate the house where the murder had taken place. No flowers or memorials or even police tape marked crime. Most of her neighbours were unaware that a murder had taken place on their street. The house was eerily like my own. That a murder had taken place so close to my own home and yet seemed almost anonymous intrigued me. Why had it not made more news than a brief paragraph in the local paper? I went back and took a photograph of the banal scene.
This was the beginning of a project in which I documented every murder site in London within the M25. The project covered two years from January 1, 2011 until December 31, 2012. I went to 210 murder sites in that period.
I am not interested in crime scenes per se, i.e., blood, dead bodies. I am more interested in how we react, cope with, look at, live with places where great violence has taken place. That most personal kind of violence known to us as 'murder'.
In the course of this project I have seen parts of London I would have otherwise never visited, places I never knew existed. I went to each place by public transport and foot. Over the period I realised I was not just documenting murder sites but London, the unseen city. I tried to create an alternative view of London. The London far away from the tourists and the centres of power. The inner city of today is wealthy, it is in the outskirts that the majority of crime takes place, where most of the working classes and its poor live. It is where the new immigrants are housed. It is where I find myself working, far away from the London most are most familiar with.
The murder sites I photograph are deeply private places. Places that family and friends come to mourn a death. Places where neighbours and passersby take stock. Sometimes the significance of the place is known only to me and those involved, nothing else marks it. And yet these sites are open for all to see.
I hope that when you look at these photographs you ask a lot of questions. Ask who was murdered and why. Where did it take place and what does it mean. I hope that the photographs provoke questions that will make you think about the society we live in.
All images © Antonio Zazueta Olmos