French photographer Céline Clanet spent five years travelling across the frozen tundra of the Kola Peninsula.
Her images criscross three parallel worlds of the post-Soviet Arctic: the area’s vast military infrastructure, mining and industry, and among them both, communities of the indigenous Sami people trying to maintain their traditional lifestyles.
“The complex history of that region makes it unique,” Clanet says. “It is a fragmented polar land, shared between three worlds that coexist but do not meet.”
The photographs she took are featured in her latest photobook, Kola, which blends portraits and dreamy, pastel-hued landscapes.
Clanet has long been interested in the far north and she spent a decade studying Lapland, Europe’s ancient but largely unknown Arctic region, before turning her attentions to Russia. But despite her knowledge and extensive journeying, secrets remain. The book is interspersed with satellite views of some of the areas, snowy shipwrecks and military cities, which remain firmly closed to the public.
“I long fantasized about these secret and forbidden places,” she says. “[They] revealed themselves in an extremely precise and dreamlike way through my screen, during long nights browsing the internet, at home, in Paris.”
Kola will be published by Éditions Loco on 19 October.