For me this project started in 2014 and I'm still working on it. I went on several expeditions to Kolyma in Magadan Region – one of the most remote regions of the Russian Far East.
The project title quotes Varlam Shalamov's poem. Shalamov is the author of "Kolyma Tales", a prisoner of Dalstroy*, who could both convey the majesty of Kolyma's wilderness and the horror of Stalin's Gulag. How did Kolyma change since Shalamov's time, in more than 50 years; what hides "in the shadow of time"?
The first thing we think of when we hear "Kolyma" is the years of the Stalin’s repressions. It still bears some scars of the past, the age of brutal development, costing the lives of thousands of Gulag prisoners. Though most of the camps and mines left almost no trace to be seen today, the nature still vividly remembers the history and those hundreds of thousands of souls who worked here and also those who never came back.
Today not many locals can still remember the Dalstroy period, the majority of Kolyma residents were born and grew up in a new reality. Today's Kolyma suffers mainly from disrepair and abandonment, as not only the Gulag’s remnants are fading away but also the infrastructure built in the 60's and 70's is gradually coming to ruin. Settlements and towns fade away one by one. A typical for Kolyma story: factories close, people first lose their jobs, then the lights go dark, next central heating runs cold, forcing them into conditions impossible for normal life. People are left with no choice but to leave their homes. The population of Magadan Region shrank by two thirds, since the 90's.
But in spite of all the social shocks of the 20'th century, in spite of all the scars that Kolyma still bears, Kolyma lives, but lives its own life, in the shadow of time.
* Dalstroy was an organization set up in 1931 by the Soviet NKVD (the predecessor of the KGB) in order to manage road construction and the mining of gold in Kolyma using forced labor of prisoners. Over the years, Dalstroy created about 80 Gulag camps across the Kolyma region.