Evgenia Arbugaeva was born in the remote town of Tiksi on the Siberian coast of Russia. She studied Art Management at the International School of Moscow and in 2009 graduated from the ICP’s photojournalism and documentary program. She now works between Russia and New York.
Tiksi is a real town, situated on the Arctic coast of Siberia. I was born in Tiksi in 1985 and spent my childhood days there. In the days of the Soviet Union, Tiksi was an important military and scientific base. People came from all over the country, some driven by employment opportunities, and others driven by a romantic dream of the far North. As the introduction implies, although the town is very far north and surrounded by vast expanses of tundra, there was an abundance of beauty. After the fall of the USSR my family, along with many others, boarded the windows of our home and left for a bigger city. I was 8 when we left, and ever since then I have never been able to forget Tiksi. The scenery, the colors, and the moments of pure childhood imagination made a lasting impression on me. I have always wanted to be that little girl again.
Last winter and fall for the first time in 18 years I went back to Tiksi. The scenery was still there, but the town was nearly abandoned. I met Tanya, a young girl who reminded me of myself when I was a kid. She had a similar fascination with the sea and the tundra, and a similar urge to explore her environment. Soon after meeting Tanya, she told me how much she admired Jacque Ives Cousteau (the red hat is a tribute to her hero). She quickly became my friend and my guide to Tiksi. In the fall of 2012, Tanya’s family—just like my own 18 years ago—will leave Tiksi behind. They see no future in the small town and plan to move to a larger city.