Russian photographer Slava Stepanov, who publishes his photography under the moniker “Gelio”, specializes in intriguing aerial photographs of massive Eastern European industrial cities. Gelio’s images of Siberia’s Norilsk, the world’s northernmost large city, reveal the dichotomy of devastating pollution and stunningly cold climate and colorful, neatly organized industrial architecture. These images reveal the devastation caused by acid rain and dense smog as the city’s oddly colorful buildings contrast sharply with the dark concrete and polluted snow surrounding them.
Officially founded in the mid-1930’s, Norilsk was home to the headquarters of Norillag, a gulag labor camp whose prisoners were forced to work in the massive metallurgic mines located in Norilsk. In the late 1970s the labor camp was closed but the mines remained open; employing the remaining residents of the city. In addition to crippling pollution from the mining process, the city’s climate is extremely harsh. Snow covers the ground for over 250 days each year, and the region experiences a yearly six-week “polar night” during which there is no sunlight.
All images used with permission.
You can find more of Gelio’s work on his website.