The Russian documentary photographer Elena Chernyshova (b. 1981) was exhibited at Copenhagen Photo Festival in 2016 with a solo exhibition in Photo City at Bremerholmen Transformerstation, showing her series ‘Days of Night – Nights of Day’ from 2011.
Chernyshova is a self-taught photographer, she actually studied architecture which led her to develop a passion for the visual language and after two years of working as an architect, she began her career as a photographer. Her work has received numerous awards including one at World Press Photo 2014, Daily life, third prize, stories.
‘Days of Night – Nights of Day’ is a documentary series of the living conditions of the inhabitants of Norilsk, a mining city with a population of 177.000, making it the second-largest city within the Arctic Circle. Norilsk was founded in 1935 as a Soviet Gulag camp in operation until 1956. The city, its mines and metallurgical factories that we see today were constructed by prisoners of the Gulag.
Norilsk has an extremely harsh climate with snow covering the land most of the year and with polar nights from around November to mid-January, when the sun does not rise above the horizon. The series aims to investigate the human adaptation to the extreme environment and document the daily life under these unique living conditions.
For Chernyshova, photography is a way to investigate the daily life of different groups and communities in the context of environmental, political, and economic changes. Her work aims to visualize the impact of certain conditions of human activity, ways of adaptation, and diversity of lifestyles. At the moment Chernyshova is working on four personal long-term projects, ‘Gone with Faith’, ‘Wing Ambulance’, ‘Volga Deutsche – Yenisei’ and ‘French Village’ (november, 2019). Other than that, she regularly collaborates with National Geographic Russia, Geo and other magazines.
‘Days of Night – Nights of Day’ travels around the world for solo exhibitions, group exhibitions and festivals each year, you can currently experience it at Flow Photofest in Scotland until the 30th of november.