Evgenia Arbugaeva © Theodora Richter

Ich wollte die Atmosphäre der Polarnacht,
der Düsternis einfangen, aber auch die Schönheit
der Einsamkeit als Meditationsraum.“

Evgenia Arbugaeva

Hyperborea is a voyage to the depths of the night. The endless night of the Russian Arctic, where weeks can pass without a ray of sun. These are also sleepless nights, thanks to the strange lights that caress the sky. Hence the title, drawn from Greek mythology: Boreas (the north wind) and the Hyperboreans (those who live beyond the cold breath of Boreas).

Thanks to Evgenia Arbugaeva, a Russian photographer raised in the isolated Siberian port town of Tiksi on the coast of the Laptev sea, we are taken in search of these Hyperboreans. 

First there is Slava, a devout man living in the solitude of an isolated weather station in the Far North. We also discover the guardians of a lighthouse on the Kanine peninsula, who live with their dogs. In Dikson, a ghost town plunged into darkness and abandoned after the fall of the Soviet Union, Evgenia Arbugaeva’s lens captures a surreal Aurora Borealis worthy of the auspices of Nordic gods with forgotten names. Then, in the Tchoukotka region, the photographer encountered the Tchouktche community, who maintain their ancestral traditions by living off the land and the sea, with walrus and whale meat as staple food sources.

This work, at the crossroads of documentary and magical realism, shows us the fragility and resilience of the Arctic and its inhabitants. Using a visual grammar borrowed from photojournalism and yet constantly calling on myths and fables, Evgenia Arbugaeva reveals the ineffable links between heaven and earth, light and dark, nature and culture.

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