/29 Cities

Céline Clanet


These photographs are the result of a five-year exploration of the Kola Peninsula, also known as Murmansk Oblast, or Russian Lapland; a land located at the northwesternmost point of Russia, bordered by the Barents Sea and the White Sea.  

KOLA is a harsh land, whose inhabitants must cope with a two-month dark winter and year-long polar

KOLA is an ancient promise, a Great North Utopia: Sámi people settled here thousands of years ago, to live nomadically with their reindeer herds, and are trying nowadays to maintain their identity. Other people came here, from all parts of Russia, in order to build their destiny and domesticate the russian Arctic.  

KOLA is a secret land that hosted, during Soviet times, the highest concentration of military installations and nuclear weapons in the world; it is still today the home of the Northern Fleet and several ‘closed cities’ where access is strictly forbidden.  

KOLA is a strategic land, whose position was crucial to Russia and its allies during the two World Wars. This position has made Murmansk - last city created by the Russian Empire in 1916 - the largest city of the Arctic.  

KOLA is a fragmented land, shared between heavy mining industries, military activities and indigenous reindeer herding; all separated by invisible borders.  

Partly inaccessible, either due to lack of infrastructure, military prohibitions or barrier of language, the secretive Peninsula nevertheless conceded to me the following images.
I sank into the landscapes of this mysterious land, like a foot into a snow whose depth would not be known.