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Norilsk Living Nowhere

Norilsk Living Nowhere – Part 1

​Norilsk Living Nowhere – Part 1. 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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Located 400 km north of the Arctic Circle, Norilsk has no ground connections with the rest of the world. Norilsk citizens refer to the rest of the world as ‘the continent’.  © Elena Chernyshova

Norilsk – Living Nowhere

 

 

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With a population of 175,000 inhabitants, Norilsk is among the biggest cities above the Arctic Circle. This city-factory has only one reason to exist: maintaining the biggest metallurgical and mines complex in the world. This complex by itself is worth approximately 2% of Russia’s GDP.  © Elena Chernyshova

Norilsk – Living Nowhere

 

 

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6,000 years ago, the rich deposits of the region were already attracting people. But the real rise of Norilsk occurred at the beginning of the 20th century, when a geological expedition discovered rich deposits of nickel, copper and cobalt. In 1936, the USSR started the construction of a metallurgical complex — the modern city was born. © Elena Chernyshova

Norilsk – Living Nowhere

 

 

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Anna Vasilievna Bigus, 88, spent ten years of her youth in the Gulag. At age 19, she was separated from her family and sent into the Arctic Circle. “The only joy we could have in Gulag was singing. We sang a lot. And this gave us the strength to survive…” Her daughter became a music teacher and her grandchildren sing in opera. © Elena Chernyshova

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The “Big Norilsk” is an ensemble of three cities: Norilsk, Talnakh and Kayerkan. They are situated in a radius of 30km and linked by land roads. © Elena Chernyshova

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Norilsk is situated on the Siberian western plateau, at the foot of the Putorani Mountains. It sits upon the world’s largest deposits of nickel, copper and palladium. These deposits were formed about 250 millions years ago. Today, “Norilsk Nickel” is the world leader in the production of nickel and palladium (17% and 41% respectively). © Elena Chernyshova

Norilsk – Living Nowhere

 

 

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Norilsk minerals are extracted from six underground and one open mine. The deposits contain nickel, copper, palladium, platinum, cobalt, gold and other rare components.The total length of underground galleries exceeds 800 km, while their depth varies between 450 and 2050 meters. © Elena Chernyshova

Norilsk – Living Nowhere

 

 

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Three plants of Norilsk — the nickel factory, the copper factory and the metallurgical complex “Nadejda” (“Hope”), were built successively in 1942, 1949 and 1981. 56% of the population works in these places. Here is the melting department. The workers wear masks at all times to filter out the gaseous fumes. © Elena Chernyshova

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According to the Blacksmith Institute, Norilsk is the 7th most polluted city in the word and most polluted in Russia. Every year the metallurgical combine emits almost 2 millions of tons of gas into the atmosphere. One of them, sulfur dioxide, is a principal source of acid rain. Almost 100,000 ha of the fragile tundra around the city is dead or in danger. © Elena Chernyshova

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Sulfur dioxide is the principal source of acid rain. Almost 100,000 ha of the fragile tundra around the city is dead or in danger. The concentration of heavy metals in the earth is so high that it is forbidden to collect mushrooms and berries in the 30 km radius around the city. © Elena Chernyshova

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During the summer, the air becomes even more polluted. The difference of temperature in the atmosphere prevents the evacuation of smoke. Thus, a nauseating smog pervades the streets of Norilsk. This situation is aggravated by the position of the three factories: they lie opposite one another, meaning that no matter which way the wind blows, smoke enters the city. © Elena Chernyshova

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Life expectancy in Norilsk is ten years lower than in the rest of Russia. The emissions cause lung disease, digestive malfunction and cancer. Cases of allergies, asthma, cardiovascular degeneration, and blood disorders are widespread. So are mental illnesses. The risk of cancer in Norilsk is two times greater than in the rest of the country. © Elena Chernyshova

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The construction plan of Norilsk was established in 1940, by architects imprisoned in the nearby Gulag. The idea was to create an ideal city. The most “ancient” buildings are constructed in the Stalinist style. The next step of construction happened in the 60s, when the prevailing method in the USSR was to use pre-built panels. © Elena Chernyshova

Norilsk – Living Nowhere

 

 

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The majority of the buildings in Norilsk, Russia, are constructed with pre-built panels. These buildings were called “Gostinka” and were considered temporary accommodations for newly arrived workers, but many of them became permanent dwellings and remain today. © Elena Chernyshova

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Norilsk – Living Nowhere

Norilsk – Living Nowhere

Norilsk – Living Nowhere

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