Kemerovo, a study in Siberia

When I first arrived in Kemerovo I didn’t quite know what to expect. I went there with the purpose of documenting the people of a small city in Russia’s Siberia and how they live and work in their environment. I had expected a city of stark contrast to the city that I grew up in, Dublin, Ireland. But as time passed and the more I explored I found that both cities had similarities, where the changing industrial background set the scene but the people were the points of interest.

Kemerovo is a city of roughly 600,000 people located in the south of Russia sandwiched above the border of Mongolia and Kazakhstan. It has a rich industrial history of coal mining along with many steel, aluminium and chemical plants making it an important city at the beginning of the 20thcentury. But since the disintegration of the Soviet Union it has experienced a rapid decline creating high levels of unemployment. I expected Kemerovo to be like a time capsule of former Soviet Russia but in fact it wasn't.

High rise apartment buildings are rising everywhere, shadowing the stereotypical Soviet Russian features I was expecting. Similar to when Dublin experienced it’s financial boom back in the early 2000’s and new expensive infrastructure shined next to 70’s and 80’s tenements. But there are still many areas of Kemerovo where the remnants of the old Soviet era are still present and it was it these places where I spent most of my time walking the streets documenting its people. I want to return again to document more life from this part of Siberia in the wake of this global shift in consciousness.

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