Dikson – 650 souls, deathly cold in winter, but 23 hours of daytime as of April: it’s the northernmost settlement in Russia, split between the mainland and a nearby island. Swiss photographer Beat Schweizer travelled there to figure out how people can live in such a place.
“You can walk for 20 minutes and the only thing you see is snow. After an hour, everything fades to white, and you can’t pick out the horizon anymore,” he told swissinfo.ch.
His journey to Dikson, that he undertook with a writer and an interpreter, is documented in his exhibition “An der Frostgrenze” (at the frost line). His photos will be on display until April 22 at the Pasquart Photoforum in Biel before they are shipped to Vladivostok.
Nearly all the people he met in Dikson are involved in the maintenance of the local infrastructure, which includes the tiny airport where a plane lands once a week. The only connection to the rest of the world rarely brings in guests.
The initial scepticism that the locals display when they first meet outsiders soon gives way to a warm welcome. Schweizer and his travelling companions were soon provided with somewhere to stay – an apartment where the rent meant feeding the cats that lived there. Their owner was lying in hospital with a broken leg.
“We were taken in like long-lost sons,” explained Schweizer. “If a Russian turned up like that in a village in Appenzell, he wouldn't be treated so well.”
(Photos: Beat Schweizer, Text: Nadja Capone and Renat Kuenzi, swissinfo.ch)