Gautier Deblonde has made five trips to the Norwegian archipelago of Svarlbard in the High Arctic since 2003. Spitsbergen, the main island in the group, lies between latitude 76.5° and 80° north. For 115 days each year, the sun does not rise above the horizon.
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Barentsburg is a Russian mining town. It was established by the Norwegians in 1912 and bought by the Soviet Union in 1932. Now it is in the decline, with a workforce of around 600 men and women from Russia and Ukraine.
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The Russian and Ukrainian workers in Barentsburg are employed by the Russian-owned Arctikugol Trust, which has been mining here since 1932.
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Pyramiden, founded as a mining settlement by Sweden and sold to the USSR in 1927, is now a ghost town. It was abandoned in 1998, though there are plans to redevelop it for tourists.
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Areas of Svarlbard have been intensively mined since the beginning of the twentieth century and abandoned industrial relics appear like phantoms in the landscape.
A selection of photographs from the Arctic archipelago.
Gautier Deblonde grew up in France and came to London to work as a photographer in 1991. His photographs of the creation and installation into the Millennium Dome of Ron Mueck’s sculpture Boy won a World Press Award and were published in 2001. His photographs have been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery and Tate Britain. True North, a series of photographs of Svarlbard in the High Arctic, were published in 2009.
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