Memory of Sun

A pioneer town, built in the ice and obscurity of the Russian north. A product of the Soviet policy of creating cities across Russia’s most inhospitable region, like a challenge to nature and the rest of the world. Once built, Murmansk still had to be populated. Young people from different regions of the Soviet Union were drawn to the region in the 1950s and 1960s with higher paid range than the rest of the USSR. The city became the center of Soviet nuclear submarine and icebreaker activity, thanks to its all year around ice-free port warmed up by the Gulf Stream. 

But once these Soviet pay bonuses vanished in the newly independent Russia and local enterprises in the industrial cities of the Murmansk region were privatized and entered the market economy in the beginning of the 90s, a mass exodus occurred as people abandoned Murmansk. There emerged a steady problem of depopulation of Murmansk.The city’s population has dwindled since the end of the Soviet era – it’s now just 64 per cent of what it was in 1989. As the new generation is leaving the arctic, the city is slowly shrinking. If Murmansk follows this path, the city will have disappeared in 50 years. The post-Soviet economic crisis, the increasing mobility in a globalized world and the harsh living of the Russian arctic weakened the bonds between the city and its new generation born at the end of the USSR period. We should get out of here”, says young Russians up north.

“Memory of sun” explore the sense of place among youth in the Murmansk region and their relation to their native land. A place of abandoned structures of decaying town, the remains of a past world and the signs of an uncertain future. A “war hero” city, destroyed once and rebuilt, struggling to find its place in a peaceful time. The empty landscape of a shrinking city are completed by portraits of a new generation that will decide its survival or not.

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