Igor Elukov

2016 Award for Potential


This is a story of the Russian North

The Russian North is a territory that embraces Northern regions of European Russia, between the borders of the Republic of Karelia in the west and the chain of Ural mountains in the East. My investigation began in the villages of the Archangelsk region, close to the White Sea, where my family originates from and where I spent the years of my childhood. The density of population in this area is very small (4 people per 1 square kilometer), most villages lie remote from the cities and they have no connection to the big world other then the air transport.

Gradually I started to broaden the borders of my vision, travelling by rivers – they are the substitute for the non-existent road network – and crossing the enormous, white and empty spaces of tundra and frozen seas, where one can move with caterpillar SUV transports. I concentrated on the co-existence of mighty natural powers and the life of a human being in harmony with them.

Speaking generally, people live in the same way as their ancestors used to live in the 15th century, but they undertake serious legal risks every day, as their traditional sources of income and living – fishing and hunting – are strictly regulated by the law nowadays. Men still leave their homes for several months and go to the remote places where they stay in hard conditions – in lonely wooden huts, by the huge Northern lakes. Their life keeps pace with natural cycles: fishermen by the sea sleep and wake with tides, daily work in the villages depends on sunshine or rain. And the success of fishing or hunting depends on moon and wind.

This life shows us very clearly that a human being is not the master of the land, and ruined towns in the tundra, that used to bloom not long ago and now lie abandoned, prove this again.

About the Photographer

Igor Elukov was born in Kirov, Russia in 1991 and is currently based in St Petersburg. His work dramatically documents the tough life of the people who live above the Arctic Circle in his homeland.