November 26, 2005; by Michael Oschepkov, San Francisco Click
- These 74 photos were taken in Chukotka in 1980-1990. 71 was made by Gennadi Kovalenko, and 3 - by Sergei Zaicev. Both friends worked at that time as aircraft maintenance technicians at the Zaliv Kresta airport.
The most interesting about these works is that they represent a view of a talented photographer who actually lived in Chukotka for long time, and being in aviation was able to travel around and make fabulous panoramic pictures.
Printed by Gennady, these photographs were assembled in an album which was presented to Anatoly and Vera Davidenko from Belarus who lived in Chukotka at that time in a small settlement Nutepelmen at the Arctic Ocean. The album was carefully preserved in the family.
Michael Oschepkov has digitized and prepared these pictures for this publication. All together they form a unique reportage about Chukotka in Russia, far away geographically as well as historically - it was another historical period when these pictures were taken. Something has changed, something stays the same. Michael lives in Russia. He is a photographer also. Here are other tours by Michael Oschepkov: Archangelsoe and Sakharov Museum in Moscow - 5000 miles (8000 km) away.
You should not be discouraged by the colorless pictures. Sky is blue and grass is green there. And snow is crystal-shiny.
Click on any picture to start an interactive page with large photos
Yet native people live here the same way they did for thousands of years.
Somebody else lived here even earlier: this land was a pass to undiscovered America.
Ostrov Vrangelya island not far from here was the last place of surviving mammoths 4,000 years ago. Mammoth bones were used for constructions up to 19 century.
First europeans - russians came to Chukotka in 16-17th century. Little was attractive for the government here until gold and other ores where discovered and became needed in 20 century. Before 1990 small miner's-towns were mostly inhabited by temporary workers. It was good job here in 1980s - government paid a lot of money. Now most of these jobs are gone.
This is a land of long distances. Only airplanes and ships can get here. Caribous-reindeers are still important and convenient mean of transportation.
What you can see here is a little town even by Chukotka's standards. There were dozens of these mining settlements, hard to say, centers of civilization or tips of its tentacles.
A port, ships where as essential for surviving as power plants. Everything was brought here, and everything was taken away, even people lived here temporary.
Sorry. I forgot. Not all of them. Some, adopted in every way, will stay on the land of their ancestors no matter what happens to the world of strangers.
Text by Greg Gregson
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