Norilsk Living Nowhere

Norilsk Living Nowhere – Part 3

​Norilsk Living Nowhere – Part 3 By Elena Chernyshova

“Days of Night/Nights of Day” is about the daily life of the inhabitants of Norilsk. Norilsk is a mining city, with a population of more than 170,000.

It is the northernmost city (100,000+ people) in the world. The average temperature is -10° C and reaches lows of -55° C in the winter. For two months of the year, the city is plunged into polar night when there are zero hours of sunlight.

The entire city, its mines and its metallurgical factories were constructed by prisoners of the nearby gulag, Norillag, in the 1920s and 30s. 60% of the present population is involved with the city’s industrial processes: mining, smelting, metallurgy and so on.

The city sits on the world’s largest deposit of nickel-copper-palladium.

Nearly half of the world’s palladium is mined in Norilsk. Accordingly,

Norilsk is the 7th most polluted city in the world.

This documentary project aims to investigate human adaptation to extreme climate, environmental disaster and isolation. The living conditions of the people of Norilsk are unique, making them an incomparable subject for such a study.

Elena Chernyshova

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Despite the difficult conditions of life in Norilsk, the birth rate there is higher than in any other region of Russia. Still, the climate and environment have a negative impact on women’s health. The majority of women born in Norilsk as well as those who have been there while pregnant must undergo caesarean childbirths. © Elena Chernyshova

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Once a month, “a true disco”, the “Mechanika”, is organized in the city by a group of volunteers. This is the only opportunity to listen to new music in a public setting. © Elena Chernyshova

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For the holiday of Shrovetide, the Russian tradition is to burn a scarecrow. This represents the passing of winter and the beginning of spring. In Norilsk, the winter lasts 9 months, so this tradition offers only the distant hope of sun and warmer weather. The people must wait another 2-3 months before the arrival of true spring. © Elena Chernyshova

Norilsk – Living Nowhere

 

 

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In the summer, there is a period when the sun doesn’t go under the horizon. This continues from the end of May till the end of July. It is accompanied by good weather and pleasant temperatures. Around 3 am, while the city sleeps, it is still illuminated by the sun. The city seems like a ghost town, emptied of its inhabitants. © Elena Chernyshova

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The continued presence of light disorders sleep. But Norilsk residents claim that they are tired enough after work that the light does not bother them. Still, the buildings are not equipped with shutters for protection so the bedrooms are filled with intrusive light. Only a few apartments are fitted with thick curtains. © Elena Chernyshova

Norilsk – Living Nowhere

 

 

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In the summer, there is a period when the sun doesn’t go under the horizon. This continues from the end of May till the end of July. It is accompanied by good weather and pleasant temperatures. Norilsk inhabitants use every opportunity to stay outside, often walking till the middle of the night. The temperatures can reach 25° or even 30° during a hot year. © Elena Chernyshova

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One of the particularities of Norilsk is that it completely lacks green spaces where one can escape. Inhabitants must go 30 km by bus to find even a bit of true nature. Lack of time causes people to try and enjoy the sun in the urban area. © Elena Chernyshova

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During the summer, the children in the kindergarten do physical exercises without clothes. This teaches them to adapt better to the cold. © Elena Chernyshova

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Young people who do not have a job related to metallurgy desperately want to leave. They do everything to find work on “the continent”. They cite their home’s harsh living conditions, the lack of places to go out and the severe sense of isolation. “We cannot even leave for the weekend to visit another city, to change ideas and meet other people.” © Elena Chernyshova

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One of the particularities of Norilsk is that it completely lacks green spaces where one can escape. Inhabitants must go 30 km by bus to find even a bit of true nature. Lack of time causes people to try and enjoy the sun in the urban area. © Elena Chernyshova

Norilsk – Living Nowhere

 

 

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Dolgoe Lake lies at the foot of Norilsk and separates the industrial area from the city. When the city was being designed, the architects imagined a large park and recreation area along the lake. Yet the development of this area has never been done. In response, people have tried to domesticate industrial zones for leisure and recreation. © Elena Chernyshova

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Each year, the inhabitants of Norilsk celebrate the arrival of summer with joy. A three-day meeting is organized in the tundra, during which various competitions are held: canoeing, climbing and so on. Each team has its own motto, anthem and outfit. Here is a team called “Pioneer of our Era”, eating breakfast before a day of competition. © Elena Chernyshova

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Adults often gather for weekends in their holiday villages. They stay in small dachas which are situated in the tundra 30 km from Norilsk or on the shores of the legendary Lama lake. Barbecues and parties are organized throughout the summer. © Elena Chernyshova

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After 9 months in confined spaces, the people of Norilsk escape in the tundra for long walking trips during the summer. Norilsk inhabitants have a special relationship with nature: all winter they are taming the cold while in the summer, they are free to explore the virgin areas of the tundra. © Elena Chernyshova

Norilsk – Living Nowhere

 

 

Norilsk – Living Nowhere

Norilsk – Living Nowhere

Norilsk – Living Nowhere

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