Journeying to the far-north Russian town of Tiksi on the Arctic Ocean where she grew up until she was eight years old, Arbugaeva wanted to recapture the enchanted memories she had of a childhood before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Her photographic journey really came to life when she befriended a young girl, Tanya, who served as her model in this place of desolation and wonder. There is Tanya with her husky dog on the first day of summer, wearing her red boots and trapped on an ice floe. There she is, running on the snow after school past a wreck of an enormous, yellow cement block building. In another photo Tanya skips stones from a rusty barge; in another she creates an eerie shadow on an old brick house. There is her uncle Vanya ice fishing, and in another the glory of a place where for sixty-seven consecutive days in winter the sun does not rise but the Aurora Borealis turns on its violet, green and yellow lights.
These polar photographs took my breath away, perhaps because I sometimes believe that I live in the frozen tundra, even as climate change shakes the earth and weird events separate winter into cold and warm days. I cherish the days when my Orion magazine arrives in my mailbox, bringing me beauties such as these eleven photographs from the far north land. www.orionmagazine.org .