Evgenia Arbugaeva Interview: Returning to my Childhood

“It was the moment when the Arctic was sleeping. But it will wake up again.” Meet the young Siberian photographer Evgenia Arbugaeva in this interview about her project “Tiksi”, nostalgic postcards from the imagination of a young girl.

Is it possible to return to childhood? As a girl, Evgenia Arbugaeva (b. 1985) grew up in the Siberian town of Tiksi, which she then had to leave when she was just 8 years old. 18 years later she returned to search for the landscape of her childhood, where she had been as happy as never again, she says. It seemed like a fairy tale, but it was reality. The light, the scenery, the colors, and the moments of pure childhood imagination.

What started out as a personal trip, then developed into a photographic project. Evgenia Arbugaeva met the girl Tanya, that reminded her of herself as a young girl. Tanyas life and family became the personification of the past.

“Tiksi” though is much more than the personal hunt for a lost childhood. Since 1991, the year, Evgenia Arbugaeva and her family left the town of Tiksi, the Russian Arctic has changed dramatically. Once a symbol of Soviet ambition to conquer the arctic, the town of Tiksi today is nearly abandoned, the number of inhabitants has been reduced from 12.000 to 4.000. Tiksi thus also becomes a symbol of the decline of the Russian arctic, sharing that fate with many small town in the arctic region. “The reality of the place is pretty sad”, Arbugaeva states and reflects about her own images being “almost too sweet and too naive” a representation of reality. But this one time it is all right, she adds: “I wanted to document the place from the perspective of a young girl, being unaware of the big politics around her”.

Russian Evgenia Arbugaeva (b.1985) graduated from the International Center of Photography in New York in 2009. In 2012 she received the Bright Spark award in the Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward Competition for emerging photographers, and a Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund Grant. In 2013 she was named one of the award winning magazine Photo District National’s 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch and she won the Leica Oskar Barnack Award at the Rencontres International de la Photographie festival in Arles, France.

Evgenia Arbugaeva was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner. Her series “Tiksi” is part of the exhibition “ARCTIC” at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

Photography by Mathias Nyholm

Editing by Kamilla Bruus

Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner

Music by Björk

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, 2013

Supported by Nordea-fonden


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