When immersing yourself into the gallery of landscape aerial photography and video footage by Nina Sleptsova, you invariably catch yourself thinking: Yakutia with its permafrost is a place that both attracts and terrifies. On the one hand, there is the solitude so desired in our often overcrowded megacities, which finally implies a frank meeting with oneself, a moment of immersion and concentration, while on the other hand there is the wary, logical (but completely unnecessary) question of the outsider: “How can one live in such conditions?”
“The North really is something you either love or hate,” Nina agrees, commenting on her work for Ayarkut, “Thoughts here are extreme, maximalist; you either want to stay here forever or leave and never return, but the cold air is sobering... Cleansing. And time seems to go slower in the north, letting you concentrate on issues far beyond the mundane routine of everyday life. When I photograph nature, it’s as if I’m merging with it, becoming part of it; I learn to observe, and try to figure out many things that I don’t understand when I’m alone with it.”
And yes, it is much more interesting to peer into the white expanses of Momsky or Tomponsky districts than, for example, Danila Tkachenko’s series “Restricted Areas”, which is similar in style and where cold is used as a symbol of desolation, a metaphor for “man’s utopian desire for technological progress”. Nina Sleptsova’s harsh conditions and permafrost are full of life. The emptiness here is rich in inner content. The silence of the ringing north is golden. Yakutian canvases of valleys, gorges and forests unfold with a sense of freedom, a hymn to the beauty of the Earth, and a hint at the fragility of the human and the eternity of the natural.