This beautiful and haunting photoessay was selected as a finalist in the LensCulture Exposure Awards 2015. Discover more inspiring work from all 31 of the winners and finalists.


There is a place where no one is born and no one dies. Of course, you can die anywhere but you cannot be buried here, as it has been discovered that bodies fail to decompose. And you definitely cannot be born here because pregnant women are made to return to the mainland to give birth.

There are also no cats, no trees, no traffic lights. There is no amusement park—but there is a circus troupe. In the winter time it is completely dark, but in the summer, the sun never sets.

The place is called Longyearbyen and it is the largest settlement and an administrative center of Svalbard. It is also the world’s northernmost city. Although it is difficult to regard it as the best place to live, many people fall in love with it at first sight. Some people came here just for two weeks and have stayed for five years or more.

But not many decide to settle down here permanently. Sometimes you get the impression that people here are trying to escape from something; that this is just a retreat. This is not a real life.

—Dominika Gesicka