I made these pictures in Murmanskaya State, Russia in Autumn 2019, when I was working as the producer of a photo crew and we travelled to various industrial facilities. But I am a photographer and can’t be without my camera. The north itself has fascinated me, but industrial landscapes add even more notes of meditative longing. All the landscapes you can see in these photos are the effect of working mining and processing plants named “tails” and dumps. We can think a lot about ecological damage, but everybody uses smartphones what was created through the extraction of minerals.
I just want to show you these landscapes. Usually they are unseen because it’s forbidden to enter and/or they are often remote territories. They are absolutely different, absolutely technogenic, but there is so much strangeness beauty and life. I remember there was a strong cold wind, cloudy weather and endless landscape of taiga that day. The feeling was of being on another planet, only trees on the horizon spoke otherwise. We were something between Mars and Earth in a post-apocalyptic movie. This landscape continuously changes while mineral deposits are being worked on. Some lines on the horizon appear and some disappear, it never stops.
I developed my films only when I return to Moscow. Sometimes I collect about 15-25 rolls and do not remember what was on the films. Too many places and new things. Every developing session is like trip back one more time. Developing, creating contact sheets, scanning, printing favourite frames and next trip. Repeated many times.
For this project I decided to use my Leica M7, Voigtlander Ultron 21mm f/1.8 and Carl Zeiss ZM Biogon 35mm f/2.0 lenses. The Leica M7 is really nice to work with in these conditions of high humidity and a lot of dust. I changed battery only two times over 4 months of shooting. For these pictures, the Ultron was demanded over the Biogon. It does a good job of showing the atmosphere and scale of the subjects.
I used bulk-loaded ILFORD HP5 PLUS, which I normally expose between EI 200 to 3200 in different shooting conditions. For this day, I exposed it at EI 400, developed it in Rodinal (1+50) and scanned it on an Imacon Flextight Precision III
~ Alex Kulikov
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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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