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Tiksi, The Frozen Town of The North

Posted on 07 August 2015

Tiksi Russia is one of the most isolated towns in the world. Russia's northern most settlement, it was built largely during the cold war. Tiksi served as an important military outpost in the arctic. At its height, it was home to over 12,000 people. With a thriving sea port, military bases, and scientific research stations, Tiksi was a bastion of civilization in the frozen north. When the Soviet Union collapsed, all of the things that gave the town life went away. The sea port closed along with the military bases and scientific research stations. 

Supplies to the town dwindled and people started leaving en mass. Now only about 5,000 resident remain by last count. Many of the aging apartment blocks are now empty, their windows missing or boarded up. The buildings were painted bright colors to liven up the town, but now the paint is faded and cracking. 

The town struggles with the Russian government to keep its airport open and the lights on. Recently boilers broke down in some of the buildings, leaving many residents without heat for weeks in temperatures below -50 fahrenheit. 

But still, with its infrequent deliveries of goods, its many abandoned buildings, ships, and bases, and its isolation, a stubborn population hangs on, the little arctic town they inhabit slowly blowing away around them, out into the vast Siberian tundra. 

This stunning photo collection from Evgenia Arbugaeva documents current life in Tiksi. Her photos focusing largely on one girl, Tanya. Evgenia found her to be a compelling subject, as she had also been a girl in Tiksi, having grown up there, then leaving with her parents once the Soviet Union came apart. Her photos are lonely and sweet, giving us a kinder view if what is usually depicted as a very stark place. 

More of Evgenia's work can be viewed here

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