Landscapes of Russia

Landscapes of Russia: panoramas and cityviews from the largest nation on Earth

Maria Pokrovskaya took this photo at the top of “Bear’s Stream” quarry in Norilsk in the north of Russia. The quarry dates back to 1945 and is still used to mine copper and nickel ore – the process which largely shaped the industry and the landscape of the area. “This photo was taken in December, during the polar night, when it’s only light for a couple of hours. At the top, the wind is always strong so it’s very challenging to hold the camera and focus”.

This photograph of the Northern city of Vorkuta and its eponymous river was taken by Roman Demyanenko. Born and raised in Vorkuta, Demyanenko later relocated to Voronezh but documented his native city during two trips in 2018 and 2019 – its northern nature, the traces of the harsh history of coal-mining and prison camps, its crumbling architecture, and its inhabitants. “I tried to be true to the documentary genre and remain neutral. But in the end, I think it was my connection with the place, and the stories of my ancestors, that helped me finish the project,” the photographer says.

Liza Faktor took this photo at the meeting place of the Angara and Yenisey rivers in Siberia. “What was most likely a normal agricultural procedure of burning old grass to prepare the soil for new crops felt deeply disturbing,” Faktor remembers. “The landscape stores memories of traumatic events that took place in it — in this case the memory of victims of Stalin’s ethnic cleansing in the 1930s, when whole settlements were displaced and dumped on the wild and unwelcome shores of Angara and Yenisey.” The photograph is part of Surface of Siberia, a study of Siberian landscape that looks at the complex relationship between man and nature and their connections through exploration, romance, challenge, suffering, and historical memory.

Mikhail Petrov took this photo in the Astrakhan region in southern Russia, close to Baskunchak salt lake – as part of the series “Salt of the Earth”. The depicted Big Bogdo mountain offers just a fraction of the many unique textures and colours of the regional landscape.

Alexey Loshchilov took this photo in June 2017 from the Yacht Bridge in St Petersburg. The towering skyscraper is the Lakhta Center, which was close to completion at the time – an almost otherworldly presence in this remote and serene part of the cityscape.

This picture, taken by Maria Pokrovskaya on the road from Norilsk to Alykel Airport, captures both the austere beauty and harsh conditions of Russia’s northern landscape. “During snowstorms, a car can easily be blown off from the road, and in this case the only way to get to the airport is in a specially arranged convoy of buses.” says the photographer. “It could have been that the owner of this car was caught up by the weather.”

This winter cityscape in southeast Moscow belongs to Dmitry Lookianov’s Instant Tomorrow — a meditation on iconography and the spirituality of the future through our day-to-day surroundings. Tower blocks framed by urban wilderness are an integral part of the Russian cityscape and the imagery of the suburbs.

This image is from Natalie Maximova’s series Hyperborea — named after the advanced northern civilisation of Greek mythology. In the photographer’s work, the landscape of the Russian north becomes the ground to explore the fine line between myth and memory.

Roman Gostev took this photo in Nizhnevartovsk, Siberia. Both small towns and metropolises in the Siberian taiga exist in the shadow of giant factories, artefacts of the Soviet industrial dream that once brought millions of people in this cold and remote land.

This otherworldly, Mars-like landscape is located near Novosibirsk in Siberia; its hues and rugged texture are the result of copper mining. This photo is part of Alexander Nikolsky’s Refraction: a visual exploration of Russia’s inner periphery and the vast spaces which envelope regional cities, as well as the way that human presence impacts nature.

This photo was taken by Anton Klimov at the peak of Mamay Mountain at the southern end of the lake Baikal. Mamay is popular among local free riders, as well as skiers and snowboarders seeking wild, natural slopes. The photographer has spent several years documenting the mountain and how it has changed under human influence.

This photograph was taken by Fedor Konukhov in Moscow’s Ramenki district, from the balcony of the flat where the photographer grew up. It’s part of Konukhov’s ongoing documentation of Moscow’s cityscape and finding serenity in its eclectic urban environment.

The image was taken by Lena Tsibizova in Koshelev, a new town built on the outskirts of Samara in May 2018, just ahead of the FIFA World Cup. The new builds here were erected at breakneck speed and are stark in their monotony. These small three-storey houses are largely home to young families: those who’ve fled the nest but haven’t managed to put aside enough for a flat closer to the city centre.

Liza Faktor took this photograph passing through Dudinka, an industrial sea port on the Yenisey River serving the Norilsk area. It captures the drifting ice, “huge chunks of ice, as thick as my height, breaking and crushing into each other, floating down the stream and into the Arctic Ocean. They were of deep marine color, green and blue and pure, and excruciatingly beautiful”. The photograph is part of Surface of Siberia, study of Siberian landscape that looks at the complex relationship between the man and the nature which are connected with exploration, romance, challenge, suffering and historical memory.

This photograph of Sayano-Shushenskaya Dam in Khakassia is part of Alexander Nikolsky’s series Concrete: a look into the cultural and architectural impact of the material which defined the built environment of the Soviet era. “I was mesmerised by the vagueness of the boundary between natural and anthropogenous,” he says, “It’s not exactly clear which of the cascading hills surrounding the concrete structure are man-made.”

This photograph of the Rear-front monument in Magnitogorsk was taken by Arseniy Kotov (who also goes under @northern.friend on instagram) as part of his ongoing exploration of Russian urban environment. In the last few years, he has travelled across the country extensively to document places that usually go unnoticed: “I’ve seen more cities and regions of Russia than the average Russian would see in a lifetime. ”Light is integral to his work and helps to capture Russia’s cityscape and their grandeur, mundanity and romanticism.

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