Photo project

Northerners: Residents of the Far North in Cristian Barnett’s New Photo Series

Even on the frozen borders of civilization, in perpetual winter, there are places people inhabit. British photographer Cristian Barnett speaks about what they do there and why they, along with the entire Arctic regions, may eventually disappear.

Cristian Barnett, age 43

British advertisement photographer. Lives in the suburbs of London. Published in numerous culinary journals and cookbooks. “Living on the Line” is his first photography project.


In 2006, when it was fashionable to talk about global warming, I got interested in observing the people who are the first ones experiencing the changes in the climate: what their life is like, how does it differs from ours, what has already changed and what will change with continued global warming. So, “Living on the Line” is not only concerned with the Arctic pole, but also with the regions that border it and nature in those places.


It’s been eight years since the creation of this project, and nearly two dozen flights – there are practically no connections between Arctic countries. The Arctic Circle covers eight countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Canada, the USA, Denmark, Iceland, and Russia. The most difficult place, from a technical and an everyday-life point of view, was Russia. However, the people there are very friendly, like in many other places in the Arctic. By contrast, in Alaska people are very secretive, wary and not inclined to communication.

When you think of people living in the Arctic, you get scared by the cold: how can anyone live there? But it’s not the same kind of cold we know. It’s not the dirty, gray European winter. Even with all of my natural fears of the cold, I felt much more comfortable there than in England in February.


We think that northerners live lonely lives, but life beyond the Arctic circle is too severe to be alone. The idea of family and kinship is much more important there. It was probably the same for us as well, before the advent of globalization.

Nature there forces you to be strong, to learn how to rely on yourself, and to respectfully take and use everything that is given to you. Everything that is in front of you belongs to you – the ground, the water, the forest, and the sky.

Occasionally some nobody from civilization comes and says, “Here’s a house you can live in.” But you can’t expect to pay for a house with fish. You need money, and that’s how people there are gradually leaving their traditional lives. I saw some of these migrants in Canada; they live in absolute poverty, they can’t find work, they have horrible problems with health: diabetes, obesity, rotting teeth. All of these are sudden results of the appearance of coca-cola and french fries in their diets.

The climate is changing faster and faster. Winds are blowing in different directions, the ice is melting, and animals are migrating to different places. The heat isn’t bringing anything good to places that have been covered by ice for thousands of years.

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/line_01.jpg”, “alt”: “Life On The Line 01”, “text”: “Kotzebue, Alaska. 2009”}

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/line_02.jpg”, “alt”: “Life On The Line 02”, “text”: “Postman from Aurskog, Norway. 2007”}

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/line_03.jpg”, “alt”: “Life On The Line 03”, “text”: “Village of Zhigansk, Yakutia, Russia. 2013”}

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/line_04.jpg”, “alt”: “Life On The Line 04”, “text”: “Village of Yar-Sale, Yamalo-Nenetskii autonomous okrug, Russia. 2012”}

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/line_05.jpg”, “alt”: “Life On The Line 05”, “text”: “Village of Zhigansk, Yakutia, Russia. 2013”}

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/line_06.jpg”, “alt”: “Life On The Line 06”, “text”: “Fort Yukon, Alaska. 2009”}

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/line_07.jpg”, “alt”: “Life On The Line 07”, “text”: “Repulse Bay, Canada. 2010”}

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/line_08.jpg”, “alt”: “Life On The Line 08”, “text”: “Raufarhöfn, Iceland. 2013”}

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/line_09.jpg”, “alt”: “Life On The Line 09”, “text”: “Sisimiut, Greenland. 2013”}

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/line_10.jpg”, “alt”: “Life On The Line 10”, “text”: “Village of Knyazhnaya Guba, Murmansk oblast, Russia. 2011”}

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/line_11.jpg”, “alt”: “Life On The Line 11”, “text”: “Rovaniemi, Finland. 2013”}

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/line_12.jpg”, “alt”: “Life On The Line 12”, “text”: “Village of Zhigansk, Yakutia, Russia. 2013”}

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/line_13.jpg”, “alt”: “Life On The Line 13”, “text”: “Sunshine Fjord, Baffin’s Island, Canada. 2013”}

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/line_14.jpg”, “alt”: “Life On The Line 14”, “text”: “Sonka, Finland. 2006”}

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/line_15.jpg”, “alt”: “Life On The Line 15”, “text”: “Repulse Bay, Canada. 2010”}

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/line_17.jpg”, “alt”: “Life On The Line 17”, “text”: “Jokkmokk, Sweden. 2007”}

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