Exhibitions, Landscape, Photobooks

Evgenia Arbugaeva took an icebreaker through the Arctic Ocean

A journey through Arctic waters leads to a personal project about a man – a meteorologist – who lives a life of solitude on a remote peninsula in northern Russia. But he is not unhappy, as Gemma Padley learns from the photographer who spent several weeks with him, documenting his everyday life; he is at one with the elements.

When Evgenia Arbugaeva boarded an icebreaker ship in the Arctic Ocean, little did she know that the trip of several weeks would lead to a project that would have a profound and lasting effect on her.

Arbugaeva, an award-winning photographer who was born in Tiksi, a settlement on the Arctic coast in northern Russia, hoped that something – a project – would come of the trip, but it would be many more weeks before she found her subject.

The photographer, who graduated from the photography programme at New York’s International Center of Photography in 2009, first came across the polar north’s meteorological stations – outposts that are home to a handful of scientists whose job it is to measure temperature, snowfall and wind – while out on a husky sledding expedition with her father (he breeds husky dogs, she tells me when we speak on Skype).

Bad weather forced the pair to stop at the research stations, which are located in areas that are otherwise uninhabited. Intrigued by the people who live there and their way of life, Arbugaeva began to research the stations and discovered many others scattered across the Arctic. Intent on finding out more about these places, she managed to board an icebreaker ship that delivers food and supplies, and spent the next two months travelling from station to station, visiting 22 in total.