100 Words: In A Russian Arctic City : The Picture Show Above Russia's Arctic Circle are cities that were built on the coal industry, and are fading in its wake.
NPR logo 100 Words: In A Russian Arctic City

100 Words: In A Russian Arctic City

It's a 40-hour train ride from Moscow to Vorkuta. The city, north of Russia's Arctic Circle, was constructed in the 1930s in large part by prisoners who were part of the Soviet gulag system of forced labor. Many workers died and were buried next to the railroad they were building to connect the city to the outside world.

The long ride offers plenty of time to contemplate this painful history. Vorkuta and other Soviet cities in the Arctic were built upon mining. But many are now shrinking or being abandoned altogether.

I became interested in Russia's far north because I was drawn to both the history and the modern, day-to-day realities. This relationship between big cities and abandoned places is what interests me.

Tomeu Coll has been a photographer for 13 years. He received a master's degree in photojournalism from the University Autonoma de Barcelona and was later hired as assistant to acclaimed photographer Donna Ferrato in New York City. More of his work can be found on his website and on FotoVisura.

100 Words is a series in which photographers describe their work, in their own words. Curated by Graham Letorney