Hooray! Hooray! Evgenia Arbugaeva, who was born in the Arctic seaport of Tiski in Yakutia, Russia’s Siberia, is the Winner of Leica Oskar Barnack Award. Her set of artful photographs depicting her homeland won the highest appraisal.
Here’s what the official Leica Camera blog writes:
«Evgenia Arbugaeva was born in 1985 in Tiksi, a small, remote town on the northern coast of Siberia that was also the basis for her Leica Oskar Barnack award-winning portfolio. In 2009 she graduated from the International Center of Photography in New York and has since been working as a freelance photographer.»
«Evgenia has won various international competitions. In 2012 she was awarded the Magenta Foundation Bright Spark award and received a Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund Grant. In 2013 she was named one of PDN’s 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch. She will be presented with the Leica Oskar Barnack Award on July 3, 2013 during the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie festival held in Arles, France. Below, Evgenia shares the inspiration behind her Tiksi project and explains what a very personal experience it was for her.»
«Q: When you returned to your hometown of Tiksi, you developed a relationship with a girl, Tanya, who became your guide. Tanya must have brought up emotions ranging from sorrow at confronting a vanished world to exultation at finding a subject and friend who was on the same wavelength that you had been as a child. How do you think these feelings shaped your coverage of this place and what do you think these images capture and say to the viewer?»
«A: I’ve heard different impressions about this project – some people feel sad because they see this almost abandoned village on the edge of the world, some feel the whimsical playful mood and it makes them smile.»
«For me this project was a chance to see Tiksi with the awe of a child, through Tanya’s eyes in the present and my memories of the past. I felt a strong urgency to be there. I wanted to be naive and playful – let myself be free and just wander around the tundra, make wishes under the Aurora Borealis, hoping that they will come true, to have long conversations with Uncle Vanya in his little hut on the shore of the ocean.»
«I think that every story I work on is there because it is needed at that particular phase of my life. My connection with Tanya is not a coincidence. I believe that thoughts and wishes can materialize, perhaps it’s a little too much of a metaphysical approach. However, I knew that when I went to Tiksi something very special would happen there. I was awaiting some kind of miracle. When I met Tanya, I was sure that she would become the key to understanding what I was there for.»