Solo artist 2021

Nanna Heitmann

Hiding from Baba Yaga

“Hiding from Baba Yaga” is a project created along the Yenisei River in Russia and the wildness around it. This land has been for centuries a place where nature can exist freely and where nomadic people have settled. Most remote parts of it have also been the refuge for criminals, political escapees or adventurers. With Stalin, the Yenisei became a place of exile and forced labour. The shape of the land changed and big lakes were constructed; villages disappeared and the climate changed. Nowadays, with globalisation, people are more attracted to living in cities, but the Yenisei River continues to be a space for dreamers and loners to escape the worldly world. Baba Yaga is a character from the Slavic folklore portrayed as a witch in various fairy tales, like the one in which she chases a little girl named Vasilisa through the forest.

In her series ‘Hiding from Baba Yaga’, Nanna Heitmann portrays the people and the way of living in this area. Here, different people with different backgrounds come together. Among the protagonists there is Yuri who lives along the river and came here because all his friends died from alcohol or drugs. Further away lives Valentin, a self-proclaimed anarch-ecologist who moved here after being traumatised by the war. All those stories are drastically different from one another and show different life situations. Despite everything, they all ended up at the same place and are somehow connected by the Yenisei River: a land of freedom and escapism from a tough reality.


Nanna Heitmann (b. 1994 in Ulm, Germany) is a documentary photographer and a Magnum associate, who is currently based in Moscow, Russia. In addition to reporting on current events, particularly in Russia, her work often looks at the way people respond to and interact with their environment: She has reported on the effects of climate change and the catastrophic forest fires in Siberia, the lungs of the world: The peatlands of the Congo Basin, but also the lives of people living along the remote benches of the Yenisei River.

She has received awards that include the World Press Photo Award, the Olivier Rebbot Award and the Leica Oscar Barnack Newcomer Award, Worldpress Photo, as well as the Ian Parry Award of Achievement and has been listed on “The 30: New and Emerging Photographers to Watch”. Heitmann’s work has been published by National Geographic, TIME Magazine, M Le Magazine du Monde among others and she works on assignments for outlets including The New York Times and the New Yorker among others.