MONOGOROD MIRNY
Project info

Last March I spent the whole month in the Russian far East starting a essay about a place which life conditions are unique.

Some 8.500 km east of Moscow and 820 km west of Yakutsk, in Sakha Republic, there is a town founded in 1956 due to the discovery of a diamond deposit; Mirny (Russian word for “peace”), which owns its very name to the pit on the periphery of the town: the Mir diamond mine. The area, isolated in the center of Siberia, grew up above permafrost (ground permanently frozen below the surface). Mirny, with 7 months of winter, suffers extreme cold with temperatures that goes as low as -40° c.

In the Soviet Union days due diamonds were a strategic sector Mirny had the status of close city. No foreigners could visit it and Russians needed a special permission to get in. Mirny got the top rate of population the year 2000 with 40.000 habitants. In the year 2001 open pit Mir works were stopped and the population started to decrease.

With an actual population of 35.000, Mirny exists only for one reason – diamonds - and the prediction that there will be diamonds is about 30 more years. In 2009 underground mine operations started to get the last diamonds of the deposit, and, according to the latest geological explorations it will continue until 2050.

Mirny is an example of what Russians call a “monogorod”– a city dominated by a single company. Around 50% of Mirny’s residents work is involved with Alrosa. In Mirny, Alrosa has also an aerial company, hotels, culture palaces or real-estate agencies. The company participates in political life so the city depends directly on Alrosa's decisions and investments. Mirny’s future is uncertain and people from there see the city as a probable future ghost city.

The living conditions of Mirny are infrequent making the lives of their habitants unique. Deep reminiscences from the personality of a closed city, traces of the character of the old Soviet Union and feelings of yearning of the communist era are all mixed from the approach of the harsh conditions of life in permafrost.

With this project I try to explore mankind adaptation to extreme climate conditions, ecological adverse circumstances and human being isolation.