A Tale of Perseverance Beyond the Arctic Circle by Tomeu Coll

The coal mining town Vorkuta couldn’t be much different from the beaches and limestone mountains photographer Tomeu Coll grew up with on the mediterranean island of Mallorca. Nevertheless, the Mallorcan photographer has developed a fascination with the desolate land nearly 3000 miles away from his home. Just north of the Arctic Circle, Vorkuta’s origins can be traced back to the Gulag forced labour camps that began to spring up across Soviet Russia in the 1930’s. Hundreds and thousands ultimately lost their lives in lonely, remote prisons, and Vorkutlag ultimately became one of the most formidable establishments of its kind. Even today, long since the labour camps shut down, Vorkuta is unable to completely sever its ties from its grim past

Today, the majority of the citizens that remain retain some connection to the former Gulag, either through firsthand experiences or vicariously through the tales of their parents and grandparents. The greys of Coll’s series Nevermind in Sovietland suggest that it may not be possible to grow in a barren place, still wounded years after the starvation and slavery ceased. However, it is entirely possible for life to persist under harsh circumstances – even when time and history would rather forget your presence altogether.

All photos are courtesy of Tomeu Coll

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