Author and photojournalist Nicolas Mingasson captures people who find themselves in extreme climatic situations in his latest exhibition, Arctic Sentinels.
Having spent the past ten years travelling, Mingasson has given his life to the Arctic. For six months in 2008, the Frenchman worked on a series of portraits that showcase the stories of populations facing the Russian Arctic. Currently on display at Plantation in Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach until October 31, the works attempt to set a meeting point between these populations and the rest of the world. “People were generally rather welcoming,” he says. “Sometimes it’s for money, sometimes to reach out to a world they do not know.” Here, Mingasson talks us through some of the stories behind his images.
1 At 17, Katya represents the younger generation of Nenets herders, a generation that moves between different worlds. She is at ease with the herd, as her mother was, but she is fully aware of the modern world – the internet, mobile phones – and she has the same dreams as many young women across Russia.
2 A morning like many others. Stoves have been restarted, the temperature rises and a breakfast of meat, fish and soup is ready. Next it will be time to perform chores – men will cut wood, repair sleds or go to the flock. The women will take care of the camp.
3 Modern appliances are gradually entering the world of tundra. Technology is less expensive and is becoming more accessible to the numerous villages who are provided with a variety of films and TV series. Technology doesn’t change the traditional way of life, which is dictated by the extreme environment, and ancestral, cultural and emotional attachment to reindeer.
4 Nenets girl. Children of Russian indigenous people are sent to school from the age of seven. They pursue their education in village or boarding schools. Until then, they work among their parents and the herd – the foundations of Nenets culture.
5 Out of respect for each other, tasks are divided between men and women with extreme precision. While men are with the herd, women take care of the camp. Here, Elena manufactures a winter jacket made of reindeer skins – a long, tedious job that can take several months. Beside her, her daughter and niece play with school books.
Free. Until October 31. Plantation, Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach, JBR, www.afdubai.org (04 335 87 12).