What Will Remain of the Heritage of the Russian North?
The preceding pages have provided a view of the traditional, historic architecture
of the Russian North. The photographs followed a trajectory from the village of
Varzuga—on the Kola Peninsula in the far northwestern part of Russia—to the
village of Kimzha, located on the opposite side of the White Sea. Both situated
near the Arctic Circle, these two villages represent the extremes within which the
journey unfolds.
In their historic amplitude a number of the points on this journey could them-
selves be the subjects of separate books. Indeed, I have published a number of
such books in Russia. But I have long thought of gathering the northern material
in a single volume for a Western audience. Thanks to the generosity of Richard
and Betty Hedreen, this is now possible.
I began photographing in Russia during the summer of 1970, but my initial
forays into the North began only in 1988. (Until the perestroika era, most of
the North was off- limits to Westerners—and some of it still is.) Throughout this
period I have worked with a variety of Nikon cameras and lenses, as well as a Bro-
nica etr medium- format camera. Several years ago I made the switch from film
to digital cameras, but most of the photographs in the book were taken on film.
Over the years, the distances traveled, the climate, and the intensive pace of work
have taken their toll on the equipment, but the work has continued to this day.
The larger question is how much of the legacy that I have photographed will
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