Divnogorsk is a small town with about 30,000 inhabitants and a fairytale name (in Russian, Divnogorsk means “town by the magic mountain”). Max Ksenzow has been roaming the forests outside the town for years, indulging in the area’s pristine wilderness even when temperatures plunge to a brutal -30°C. Although he currently works as an engineer in the nearby city of Krasnoyarsk, Ksenzow returns to his native Divnogorsk at weekends to document the mesmerising change of seasons on the banks of the Yenisei river. “The trees here radiate deep green, shed leaves, stand shy and naked, then put on fluffy coats of snow. I’m endlessly inspired by that, and manage to find something new every time I come,” Ksenzow says. “Sometimes the frost is the ultimate sculptor here.” If coral reefs existed in the Arctic Sea, they would probably look like this forest, captured by Ksenzow right outside Divnogorsk last December.
Tongues of colourful cloth hang frozen on the makeshift wooden frame that marks the end of the most dangerous part of the Chersky Passage, the road that connects Russia’s Yakutia and Magadan regions.
Nina Sleptsova and her family would pass the sign on their trips from the Yakutian capital to their small hometown of Sasyr. The area is called Anton Pass: it sees the road slope steeply, and is often hit by heavy snowstorms in winter, leaving drivers lost amid the frozen nothingness for hours on end. Those who manage to escape the pass before a blizzard hits or twilight descends usually leave a coin or hang a piece of cloth on the frame in honour of the pass’s guardian spirits. “Up there, time is still and the mountains seem to be slumbering to the whistles of the northern winds,” Sleptsova says. Her uncle once managed to successfully navigate the pass despite the broken steering wheel on his old Soviet-era URAL van. “One day I’ll praise the fearless drivers of the Chersky mountain range with a photo book,” Sleptsova wrote on Instagram.
Legend has it that in Siberia, in the Uimon Valley between the Bukhtarma and Katun rivers, there lies a promised land: Belovodye. Its name means “white water” in Russian, and the area is named for the tumultuous wild rivers rich in fish that stream down from white mountaintops. The myth originated in the 10th century CE, and has so far drawn many adventurers, including painter and philosopher Nicholas Roerich. Meanwhile, photographer Svetlana Tarasova travelled to Russia’s Altai region to find her own dreamland. The hazy, other-worldly images of her journey, both spiritual and physical, conjure a wonderland that transforms ordinary scenes of village life into rituals filled with silent grace. “Altai ... I want to whisper the name of this place. It is forever embedded in my memory, it is a source of strength in routine. A wealth that, once acquired, cannot be lost,” Tarasova told The Calvert Journal.
The Kuril Islands are Russia’s most remote and inhospitable island archipelago, stretching from the Kamchatka peninsula down to Japan. The chain of islands has around 100 volcanoes of which 40 are active. The islands themselves are the summits of the stratovolcanos often littered with hot springs and fumaroles. Photographer and architecture historian Konstantin Antipin had travelled to the Kuril Islands several times already when he arrived in Iturup in August 2019. While there, he took this image of white cliffs coated in green moss, mesmerised by their grandeur. Antipin used drone photography to capture the scale of the place, as well as its beauty from a distance. “Seen from the height of a human, the great rock feels like nothing but a chunk of chalk,” he says. “The drone really helps [us] to contemplate the architecture of nature.’
Photographer and explorer Damir Faizulin turns images of Dagestan, Russia’s most ethnically diverse region, into an ode to personal differences, traditions and freedom. Scattered on the hills of the mighty Caucasian mountains, Dagestan is home to more than 40 nationalities, each with a distinctive heritage and a unique language of their own. This majestic and powerful image was taken in Gimri, an ancient settlement and the birthplace of Imam Shamil, an important local political and historical figure. Located on the banks of the Avar Koysu River and hidden at the bottom of a deep canyon, Gimri has always provided a strategic vantage point for its residents, making it a centre of resistance and tradition, providing hope and direction in turbulent times. This duality is captured perfectly in Faizulin’s image of Gimri’s cemetery, where gravestones were made to resemble the shape of the traditional local sword — each marker suggesting a blade was buried deep in the ground, with only its handle seen above.
Chulyshman is one of the many rivers flowing through the Siberian region of Altai. The water itself carves part of a monumental canyon more than one hundred miles long and up to five miles wide. There are only a handful of settlements along the river, allowing for a host of diverse flora and fauna to spring and bloom here. There are also many tourists, usually heading to Katy-Yaryk, a breathtaking pass over the Chulyshman valley. Until 1989, visitors could only reach the canyon on horseback, after which a motorway was constructed. Now the area is opening up to explorers, including Krasnoyarsk-based photographer Alexander Kupriyanov, who captured this magnificent pastoral view of the valley one morning in August 2010. Kupriyanov has been travelling and photographing Siberia for almost 20 years, capturing the exuberant beauty and immensity of his native lands. Used to the long and harsh winters that turn immense territories into white wilderness, Kupriyanov could not resist snapping the lush and carefree beauty of a summer morning along a river that stays frozen most of the year.
Nature is captured vividly in the images of Lena Tsibizova, but its beauty exists alongside its own subtle wounds. The stillness of Tsibizova’s landscapes, taken in the town of Kyvandyk, hides a deeper trauma. Kyvandyk took shape in the 1950s to provide homes for workers at the South Ural Cryolite Plant, one of the two factories in Russia that worked to supply the needs of the rapidly-growing Soviet aviation industry. But when the USSR collapsed and the plant was closed down, Kyvandyk faced ruin. Besides mass unemployment and despair, a larger ecological catastrophe was unfolding. It soon became known that the cryolite plant had been siphoning off chemicals and dumping them into nearby lakes for years, poisoning both water and air. Tsibizova’s photograph showcases the beauty of an ecosystem that is badly hurt. Read more about Kyvandyk here.
Murmansk-based photographer Serj Ius takes his best photos after dark. The only light in Ius’s photos emanates from bright halogen street lamps, the apartment windows of sleepless residents, and fairy lights strung on shop fronts before New Year. The streets are deserted, and thick fog and flurries of snow create a peaceful yet surreal atmosphere. But not all of Ius’s photos are taken after hours. His photos of the Kola harbour were taken during the three hour interval of sunlight that the Arctic city receives during the winter. “The Gulf stream leads to unusually warm waters [in Murmansk]. In winter, water temperatures are +2º or +3º C, while the air temperature is -30º C or under,” Ius points out. This means the local Barents Sea doesn’t freeze but rather causes dense fog, as seen in his images. Besides Kola Harbour, the photographer’s other favourite spot in Murmansk is the Kola Bay Bridge. The bridge spans 1.6km, connecting Murmansk with western districts of the wider Murmansk region, as well as Norway and Finland. You can see more of Ius’ work here.
Anna Fever sees landscape photography as a spiritual practice, a ritual that helps her reconnect with the beauty and mystery of life. The photographer was born in Zheleznogorsk, a closed town not far away from Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. Growing up in the taiga surrounded by thick forests, Fever always wondered what lay beyond the edge of the woods, and finally set out travelling on her own. The flatlands and valleys of Russia’s Khakasiya and Buryatia regions quickly won her over, as they offered a glimpse of a world that, unlike her hometown, seemed open and boundless. This image was taken in late autumn 2017 just outside Ulan-Ude, the capital of Buryatia, where Fever spent several months with her husband. This view from one of the hills surrounding Ulan-Ude appears soothing and still, with the earth blanketed under a thick layer of velvety grass still untouched by snow. “Living on the steppe, you can see the thunder from a hundred miles away,” Fever says.
The town of Kirovsk is located among the spurs of the picturesque Khibiny mountains above the Arctic Circle in northwest Russia. Daria Senicheva captured this snapshot of the town undergoing a mesmerising transition. In May, Kirovsk is still covered with snow, but it is also the month when the polar nights, a period of months-long darkness, give way to what are known as the “white nights”: a short period where sunset and sunrise are almost non-existent, leaving the town bathed in a constant elusive twilight. “I was trying to capture this fragile state, as both time and space seem to be swept away,” Senecheva shares.
Photographer Alexander Zhemchugov frequently travels across Russia to document breathtaking yet isolated locations often unknown to outsiders. This image of Zolotarnoe Lake was taken in Ergaki, one of Russia’s greatest national parks, which spans more than 80 kilometres in the Krasnoyarsk region of Siberia. It encompasses the West Sayan mountain range, and remains rich with extraordinary wildlife, pristine lakes, and miles of hiking trails. The shamans of the neighbouring Tuva Republic consider the area sacred, while the World Wildlife Fund has included Ergaki in the Global Register of Protected Wild Areas. This image was taken as Zhemchugov hiked through Ergaki in late July 2019. It was the photographer’s sixth visit to the park, the artist drawn back as always by its diverse terrains and wild beauty. The rock that hovers above the lake has been polished by the wind, so much so that on a sunny day it acts as a mirror, helping Zhemchugov capture this optical illusion.
Thick fog hovers over Zherd, the remote village in northern Russia which Amsterdam-based photographer Daria Tuminas first visited in 2010. The photographer travelled to the area on several occassions as she worked on her photo series Ivan and the Moon, documenting the peculiar life of two local teenagers, Ivan and Andrey. She was struck by the pair, who were noticeably different from the other teenagers in the village: they relished their natural surroundings, went hunting and fishing, and had no desire to move to the city. As she got to know the brothers better, she discovered both had deeply entrenched values based on family, the motherland, and patriarchy. See the full story here.
Russian photographer Natalie Maximova travelled to the Arctic Ocean several times as part of her work Hyperborea: a series of suffocating yet sublime images that explore the parallels between the remote, semi-abandoned lands of the Russian North and those described in the Greek myth of Hyperborea. In her artist statement, she talks about the area described in the myth as “a devastated, now uninhabitable world of deceptive lines and textures”. Russia’s northern territories held a certain power during the Soviet era, when secret nuclear research and tests were carried out here. But after the USSR was dissolved, these areas were abandoned. Their fate lingered in Maximova’s mind when she discovered a Greek myth about a utopian land called Hyperborea, presumably located in the Far North. She began to explore the Arctic landscape in its mythological and historical context, contemplating the region’s deep melancholy. But her photos do as much to conceal as to disclose: the legendary land is a testing ground for the photographer to explore the fine line between myth and memory. See the full story here.
Nina Sleptsova took this dreamy image of Chersky Range one morning in September 2020. She went to the river at dawn to check her family’s fishing nets with her mother, and couldn’t help but bow to the beauty of the dawn she witnessed. Chersky Range lies on the boundary between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates in northeastern Siberia, between the Yakutia and Magadan regions. Every year, Sleptsova travels some 920 kilometers from Yakutia’s main city of Yakutsk to the small town of Sasyr to visit her family. Amid the vast distances of Sleptsova’s native Yakutia, such long journeys are normal: the region is five times the size of France and is the largest in Russia.
In southwestern Russia, a desert is growing. Since the 1970s, large swathes of land have been swallowed by sand, mostly in the region of Kalmykia, where St Petersburg-based photographer Sergey Nazarov travelled in 2017 to capture the region’s shifting landscape. “If you look at Russia on Google Maps, you’ll be able to see Kalmykia straight away: it’s coloured a sandy yellow, while the rest of the territory is green. It is the driest and hottest place in the country,” Nazarov recalls. Unregulated grazing is considered to be the greatest cause of Kalmykia’s desertification. The local government now provides farmers with subsidies to encourage the planting of trees, but large-scale grazing has never been officially banned. For families teetering on the edge of poverty, to stop such practices is not just unthinkable, but also financially impossible. In the meantime, Kalmykia teeters on the brink of becoming a wasteland. Read the full story here.
“New residential blocks rise in the middle of wastelands, metro lines cross through forests. But as you move away from the train station, you hardly meet anyone else,” says photographer Ilya Nikitin. His photo series, Salaryevo, follows a village of just 369 inhabitants that was transformed into a hyper-urban district when it was swallowed by New Moscow’s high rise housing in 2012. In Nikitin’s eyes, Salyarevo is a mish-mash of different epochs, spanning abandoned village houses, a landfill considered to be Europe’s biggest waste dump, newly-built high-tech bus stations, and the wild woods. Watch the full series here to take your own look at the intriguing polarity of Salyaryevo’s warped reality.
Home to more than 30 nationalities scattered among the Caucasian mountains, the Russian republic of Dagestan is like a country within a country. The region’s rich cultural diversity attracted Anna Bernal, a St Petersburg-based photographer who made several trips to the Dagestani town of Kubachi. She documented life in this village of traditional jewellers, as the changing seasons saw Kubachi transform from a town hosting endless weddings in the summer, to a sleepy white-cloaked enclave in winter. “[In winter], clouds settle on the streets and you literally walk through them,” Bernal says. In Dagestan, people historically settled amid the impenetrable mountains, which defines the patchwork nature of the territory: neighbouring villages often speak different languages and follow their own traditions despite being relatively close geographically. Discover the region’s diversity by reading our reports on Dagestan’s ancient tight-rope tradition, or find out more about Kubachi here.
Russia is a land of rivers. Originally, people would settle on the hills along the riverbanks, and would come to consider this land as sacred. Those who grew up by the Iskona River in the Moscow region, like photographer Ilya Batrakov, would come to see Gora Hill as a point of pilgrimage. “Here, people bring their dreams, hopes, and fears before returning to their village,” he explains. For Batrakov, the view became a panorama of a quintessential Russia. “It’s hard to explain, but for some reason, this landscape and its ubiquity serves as a certain tower of strength in my darkest hours,” he shares. His series, Gora, evokes that serenity and the reassuring sense of direction it provides amid the gentle eddies of time: from the exhilarating green plains of spring, to the white silence of winter. In this image, Gora Hill glows purple under a thunderous sky during a sunset in May.
The desert may not be what comes to mind when you first think of Siberia’s vast expanses. Yet, there are a number of deserts in the region, the biggest of which is Chara Sands in western Siberia. The landscape captured by photographer and explorer Alexander Nerozyathat appears in the Republic of Tuva, when summer takes hold. Lying at the geographical centre of Asia in southern Siberia, Tuva is one of Russia’s most underexplored regions. Not far from Mongolia, the area’s multifaceted terrain, scattered with lakes, mountains and the mighty Yenisey river, also boasts an intricate tapestry of cultures. As one of Siberia’s most prolific photographers, Nerozya has travelled there numerous times in pursuit of a magic manifested in the poetry of light, time and place.
Timur Akhmetov moved to Chukotka with his parents as a child. He’s been hiking in the region since his school years, mesmerised by its breathtaking beauty. He left for Moscow in 2009 and later moved to Sochi, but Chukotka’s truly epic landscapes draw him back for long photographic hikes and expeditions. Chukotka, in Russia’s Far East, sits on the shores of the windy and turbulent Bering Sea, not too far from Alaska. The climate here is extreme and changeable, and most of the population still lives a nomadic life, dedicating their time to reindeer husbandry. Akhmetov’s photograph captures a herd of reindeers somewhere close to Lake Tytyl. The crystalline pink light and snow on the ground suggest that it could be winter, but the image was actually taken in mid-May: summers in Chukotka are hot but swift, sometimes lasting less than two months. The reindeer run through the shot — a subtle reminder that in Chukotka, ever enigmatic and changeable, little can be seen as truly fixed.
In Kuzbas, west Siberia, the balance between humanity and nature has been disturbed by extensive mineral mining. Locals see the industry as a vital resource, perhaps forgetting that their population is a resource too, vital to economic growth. New mines and settlements open every year, while others are abandoned, in a constant circle of life and death. This idea of change inspired Maxim Amelchenko to give up his education in the city of Kemerovo — where he himself was studying the mining process — and set off to explore the shifting landscape of his native region.
Wooden cabins are usually associated with fairytales, but this image was taken during a scientific expedition to study butterflies. Svetlana Bulatova spent one summer with a team of entomologists to document the way they observed and studied the creatures’ peculiar lives. The scientists would spend most of their time in the meadows where butterflies come looking for food. One such spot was in the Leningrad region, not too far from Saint Petersburg: the day was cloudy, and the photo looks as if an unknown figure had just blown a thousand dandelion seeds away into the air. The fragile balance and seamless connections within nature and between the human and the animal worlds lie at the heart of much of Bulatova’s photography. See her story of one ranger trying to rehabilitate a nature reserve in war-torn Chechnya here.
A finalist for the 2020 Makers of Siberia photo prize, photographer Vlad Tretiak is best-known for his dreamy neon-bathed snapshots of his hometown Kemerovo. He took this image early last year in the outskirts of St Petersburg. “It was the first time that I’d ever been to the suburbs in St Petersburg, and the view from my friend’s flat seemed both alien and appealing, I loved how the electric light contrasted with the dirty soil. I could feel the chaotic and hostile nature of this place, but was amazed that it was actually inhabited by real people,” Tretiak remembers. The high-rises in the suburb of Murino to the north-east of the city are one of many new, densely populated urban developments being constructed on the outskirts of Russia’s former imperial capital. And, after living in St Petersburg for most of 2019 and 2020, Tretiak found that despite the sheer scale of the city and the grandeur of its main streets and historical neighborhoods, St Petersburg’s suburbs are not all that different from those in Siberia.
Ilyas Hajji took this image in Amuzgi, an abandoned village three hours drive away from the Dagestani capital of Makhachkala. Home to more than 40 nationalities scattered among the Caucasian mountains and the coast of the Caspian Sea, the Russian republic of Dagestan is like a country within a country. Yet despite a deep appreciation for their roots, many local young people are fleeing the region for larger cities and opportunities, leaving entire villages abandoned. Amuzgi, formerly a village of armourers and blacksmiths, had been in decline since 1935, when Soviet law forbade independent craftsman from making armour. People started began leaving the village to seek new work, until the settlement was abandoned for good in 2016, when Amuzgi’s last inhabitant died. The woman in the shot is travelling to Amuzgi from the neighboring village Kubachi as part of a festival designed to draw attention to these lost villages. There is no paved road to Amuzgi so she walks along the rocky mountain road for several kilometres to reach her destination.
The mighty Volga river, one of Russia’s most important waterways, is a source of hope and inspiration for many — including photographer Alexey Gunkin. “The river is a magnet. I feel a physical need to be by its side and to photograph it,” says Gunkin, who has been taking pictures of the river and those who live on its shores since 2016. His work is an attempt to capture just how the river shapes local people by nurturing a sense of freedom and internal strength. One photo shows a six-year-old boy tending his herd, accompanied by his dog and grandmother. The image was taken in late April, when the Volga is at its mightiest, often bursting its banks and leaving entire villages underwater. The boy and his small flock were lucky to find a safe patch of pasture close to a river dam, some 40 kilometres from Volgograd. Gunkin remembers his first encounters with the river at the age of six, when he went fishing with his father. He began kayaking on its waters at the age of nine and has continued ever since, driven by his deep connection with the river and his admiration for its ever-changing nature. See more images from the series here.
Photographer Anna Pliusina took this photo of a sunset on Gogland Island in the Baltic Sea, capturing both the serenity and unique character of the remote location. The island is located at the junction between Russia, Estonia, and Finland’s maritime borders. Unreachable by public transport and closed to visitors, it is inhabited by a few families who maintain the lighthouse and the meteorological station.
Photographer Alexander Zhemchugov frequently travels across Russia to document breathtaking isolated locations often unknown to outsiders. The Altai region, with its unique history, spirituality, and natural landscapes is one of his long-standing subjects. This picture was taken near the village of Ust’-Kan, nestled amid the expansive steppe, with a dramatic mountain backdrop. “This place could seem isolated and desolate, but actually it harbours a history of ancient civilisations. Tools dating back 100,000 years were discovered just under the mountain at the centre of the frame,” says the photographer.
Anastasia Soboleva took this photo in 2015 in Agoy in Russia’s Krasnodar region: a major holiday destination. Although busy, the shingle beach radiates serenity. For the photographer, staying by the coast provided the perfect opportunity for observation. “I love landscape photography because it allows us to capture the inner nature of the place. Our surroundings largely explain our behaviour, communication, and thinking, and influence cultural production. That’s why photographing landscapes has always been an important part of my practice,” Soboleva explains.
This photograph is part of Denis Zeziukin’s visual study of Stary Oskol, a Russian town located in Belgorod region in the country’s west. The streets of Oskol are a combination of urban planning templates from different time periods: the Soviet-era housing estates coexist with modern housing developments. “Stary Oskol is an example of modern Russia’s architectural eclecticism, a generalised image of a typical Russian city,” the photographer explains.
Photographer Vera Laponkina took this picture in the town of Gvardeysk in Russia’s Kaliningrad region in 2012. It is part of her project Ozerkita, an exploration of the Kaliningrad area and its complex history and cultural heritage — as well as its reflection in contemporary and frequently camp pseudo-historical architecture. The church in the photograph was once Lutheran before it was passed to the Russian Orthodox Church.
Maxim Amelchenko took this image in his home town of Mezhdurechensk in Russia’s Kemerovo region. It is one of the largest coal mining areas in the world, with new deposits being tapped into every year. In the meantime, locals reclaim abandoned and exhausted mines by turning them into recreational areas for picnics. Syrkashy Mountain in Mezhdurechensk is one such place where people come to see the sun set over the Kuznetsky Alatau Nature Reserve and the former Olzherasskiy open-pit mine. Amelchenko would come here often before he moved to Kemerovo and later Moscow, where he is now studying photography at the Rodchenko School of Art.
Anastasia Tsayder’s project Arcadia explores Russia’s urban green spaces and their history, to see how Soviet utopian ideas collided with our living environment. “Conceived as a socialist paradise before being reclaimed by nature, the Soviet Union’s garden cities form the romantic landscape of the now post-Soviet inhabited space”, she explains. This photograph was taken in Tolyatti in southern Russia in 2016.
Maria Babikova took this photo of a smelting plant in the town of Karabash in the Chelyabinsk region in 2017. “Chelyabinsk is very industrial. Throughout my childhood, I grew up staring at the factory chimneys from my window”, she recalls. “But Karabash is on another level. It is a strange apocalyptic landscape, where trees and rivers are dead and the rocks crumble underneath your feet; the consequence of large-scale human consumption and environmental neglect.”
Petr Antonov took this photograph in Moscow in 2011 as part of his project, Trees, Cars, Figures of People, Assorted Barriers. It deals with the transformation of the post-Soviet urban landscape by exploring its most typical recurring elements. “The photograph shows a gated community on the banks of Moskva River. The 2000s residential high-rises tower above a football field, acting as a sort of a modern substitute for the majestic mountains that would loom above a hunting scene in a classical painting,” Antonov says. “I use a lot of landscape photography in my work, as man-made landscapes provide a very accessible key to society as a whole”.
Dmitry Lookianov took this photograph in Russia’s Rostov region in 2014 for his project Intrinsic Journey. It marries both the mundane and the surreal, the monumental and the crumbling, the disrupted and the calm. Intrinsic Journey itself is a study of the landscape, which Lookianov compiled from 2012 to 2017 by exploring the notions of the tangible, ordinary and recordable around us.
Alexander Anufriev’s series New Moscow documents construction on the outskirts of the city. This photograph captures the precarious intersection of urban and natural spaces. Blocks of flats are built on a field which used to hold sewage waste, and the fertilised ground is now overgrown with wild flowers and vegetation, in some places sprouting taller than the people tasked with removing them.
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.
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 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 be that the owner of this car was caught 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 place 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 to 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. The photo is part of Alexander Nikolsky’s Refraction: a visual exploration of Russia’s inner periphery and the vast spaces which envelop 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 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 a search for 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 I am tall, breaking and crushing into each other, floating downstream 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, a study of Siberian landscape that looks at the complex relationship between humans and nature, affected as it is by 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 cityscapes and their grandeur, mundanity and romanticism.