Nanna Heitmann

Hiding from Baba Yaga, 2018 – Ongoing

“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.

"The most important thing is to go out and see and capture the world with your own eyes. Spend time to discover and research stories about places and people you think the world should care about. It can be any story as long as it is important to the person telling it."

 Nanna Heitmann


Nanna Heitmann 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.

Exhibitions / Notable achievements

- Solo show at The Nobel Peace Center (NO), 2022

- World Press Photo Winner in the category Stories (NL), 2022

- Associate member of Magnum Photo, 2019