Longyearbyen is the world’s northernmost settlement of any kind.
The town, the largest settlement and the administrative centre of Svalbard, Norway, claims that accolade which is measured on populations with more than 1,000 permanent residents. As of December 2015, the town had a population of 2,144. “This place is so detached from the rest of the world,” Polish photographer Dominika Gesicka told Feature Shoot. “You can leave your problems behind.”
Known as Longyear City until 1926, the town was established by and named after John Munro Longyear, whose Arctic Coal Company started coal mining operations in 1906. Not shy of history, the town was almost completely destroyed by the German Kriegsmarine on 8 August 1943, but was rebuilt after the Second World War.
“Without thinking too much, I bought a ticket and just went there,” Gesicka explained. “I really love the fresh arctic air,” she recalled in an area that welcomes polar bears roaming free, “I could sit at the open window for hours, covered with a blanket and just breathing this fresh air.”
Clearly taken somewhat under the surreal spell of the area, Gesicka stayed in a local hostel and met the locals as best she could. Armed with her camera, she set about depicting the way of life of the world’s most northern town the best she could.
The title of her work, the brilliantly fitting This Is Not Real Life, see’s the artist manipulate her shots to partner up with how she interprets the surroundings. Not wanting to reveal her methods in great detail, Gesicka did explain that her work is done entirely in-camera without the use of Photoshop.