Laia Abril’s monochromatic feel paints in broader strokes than the limited palette that is seen in her work. Abril tackles the harder to discuss topics without holding back by any means necessary with every different body of work. Lobismuller is no exception, taking on folklore, intersexulality, and over a dozen of brutal murders by one man. Between images both black and white and tinted red, captions of stories and journal entries, and pamphlet inserts, it appears that Abril has dedicated a good portion of her time to the tale of The Werewolf of Allariz. But the story behind the werewolf goes much deeper than what can be imagined by the name and the actions pinned with it.
The Werewolf of Allariz, birth name Manuel Blanco Romasanta, is recorded as Spain’s first serial killer. One of the points that makes the case more interesting is Romasanta claimed to be not guilty due to suffering from a condition that turned him into a werewolf when he did the thirteen murders. Another point is that Romasanta was actually a she named Manuela and raised as a girl for the first several years of his life. It was discovered that Romasanta was an intersexual, defined in Lobismuller as “having female chromosomes and ovaries, but the external genitalia resembling those of a man. The labia majora are fused and the abnormally enlarged clitoris resembles a penis.” Throughout the course of the pages, Abril gives notes on Romasanta life starting at birth with living as an intersexual, the mythology behind werewolves, and Romasanta’s trial determining how these deaths occurred for the women. Along with these extensive recordings are the many obscure images that flow smoothly with the timeline of events.
Abril’s book goes from scenic overlooks and landscapes, to herds of cows, to a harsh close up of what could possibly be a forest floor. Interwoven with these black and white images are stark black and red images, almost as if you were walking through this area at the moment in the silence and that is when you would have been hunted down by the Werewolf of Allariz. While some photographs are clear about their place in the book, like the silver bullets that would be used to killed werewolves, the mystery of others makes you want to keep digging into this case and understand Abril’s point-of-view behind it all. The setup of the images is a peculiar storyline of the birth of both the case of the werewolf and of Romasanta, each living in their own obscurity. Abril is able to combine the two through notes and her images, blending the separate histories into one.
The amount of dedication that you find in the book is outstanding. Lobismuller is like it’s own textbook for this short case in history where you can learn about multiple subjects. There is so much left to be said and discussed, however it is easier to say that this is one to pick up and flip through on your own. Every new read through, a new item of information is discovered or a new photograph or piece of a photograph is seen and that is a book that is just as immortal as the lore of the Werewolf of Allariz. Lobismuller has brought learning to the forefront in a way that evokes emotion and makes you want to keep researching more and more.
If you are interested in purchasing Lobismuller, you can purchase it on Photo-Eye’s website.
Written by Madison Rich
Photographs by Madison Rich