Region, Concept: Northern Europe, Space
Sub-Concepts: Preservation, Essence
Description: Across northern Europe, hundreds of “bog bodies” have been recovered from peat wetlands. Bog bodies, the bodies of ritual sacrifices and homicide victims dating back more than two thousand years, emerge in a mummified state due to the chemistry of the bogs.

The bog is a place of contradictions: it distorts and transforms that which enters its depths, yet also preserves it. While the bodies remain largely intact, they emerge from the bogs somewhat distorted—their skins shriveled and tanned. Though, the bodies’ primary deformations were caused by other humans, either as part of sacrificial rituals or homicides: dismemberment, stab wounds, mutilation. Humans strip you of your wholeness, of the limbs and organs which make you human, which keep you living. The bog slightly alters your physical state only in order to preserve your majority. The bodies have a similar quality to the dead plants which make up the chemistry of the bog: they may retain some of the nutrients from their previous state, but they exist under a sheath of dead cells.

The bog begins to mummify just after the moment when death arrives. In that act of salvation, it preserves the deformations caused by the human hand, as if to say that the sacrifices weren’t for naught. It is a twisted fate that those who were meant to be forgotten, meant to rot and decay, emerge from the depths triumphantly, bearing their scars and deformities as medals of honor. The parts of the body which have been preserved in the bog may be the most essential parts—the ones that have experienced the worst of the humanly are exalted by the earthly. The bog ennobles that which inhabits it, reminding us of something we’re meant to know even now: descend into the mud and muck and you get to keep a part of yourself. Your legacy will live on.

Alexis Yioulos