Photographer:Mario Heller
Continent: Europe
Country: Germany
Project Title: Arctic Dreams
Project Continent: Europe
Project Country: Norway
Nominated By: Lars Boering
Seconded By: Frank Meo,

There is a tradition in Barentsburg: Whenever you are on the mainland, you should hug a tree because you will find none of them here. The Russian settlement on Spitsbergen in the Arctic is so remote that reaching it is only possible by helicopter, snowmobile, or ship - if the extreme weather allows it at all. Because of the permanent danger from polar bears, leaving the village without a rifle is forbidden. In winter, Barentsburg sinks into months of darkness; in summer the sun shines around the clock. The population consists primarily of Ukrainian miners and young urbanites from Russia. They live in a close-knit community where everyone knows each other. Who are the people who have chosen to live in this strange place? And how do they manage to coexist peacefully in times of political tension?

After a strenuous shift the miners here not only sweat the dirt out of their pores but also their thoughts out of their heads They chat about all sorts of things over tea and a dip in the snow serves to cool them down br

The heroes of the skies The Mi-8 helicopter is a lifeline for the people of Barentsburg But because of the unpredictable weather it is also dangerous A team of pilots engineers and ground crew try to do everything possible to ensure safety during flights In October 2017 a crash cost the lives of several people br

Poljarniki - Heroes of the Arctic the miners were called in Soviet times Alexander Yatsunenko gets out of the coal mine after his 8-hour shift

The return of light After months of darkness twilight begins again in Barentsburg at the beginning of February On February 20 the sun appears on the horizon for the first time in months

Inspired by the history of polar exploration and its brave explorers Barbara Mokstadt is eager to experience living in the Arctic for herself The museum director loves being a part of the small community even though she doesn t agree at all with her country s politics br

The forge is a relic from the past Parts of the mining plant are maintained here br

The cultural center is a place of encounter Events are held here regularly especially on holidays Once a month there is a village meeting Residents can also use the library or dress up in Soviet costumes

Mainly singles live in the two prefabricated buildings in the background The buildings were renovated a few years ago and clad with colorful facades

The isolation and inhospitable living conditions in Barentsburg bring people closer together Marat Tatjana and Nastya spend Sunday evening together in a typical Barentsburg apartment

Many of the young residents smoke regularly The cigarettes are imported from Russia and are very cheap Smoking is a popular pastime here and an important social lubricant br