Yamal, in the language of the indigenous Nenets who inhabit this land, means “the end of the world”; It is a remote, windswept place, characterized by permafrost, by lakes and rivers and is the land of reindeer breeders for over a thousand years. Nenets herders move with their reindeer in search of food, moving along ancient migratory routes. In summer as in winter, when the temperature often reaches -50 ° C.
Today, migration routes are hampered by infrastructure associated with mining – especially gas; roads are difficult to cross for reindeer and pollution endangers the quality of food. “Yamal Megaproject” of the mining companies started in the 1990s and today, 25 years later, millions of cubic meters of gas are channeled into Europe each year.
It is not the first time that the Nenets have to face the risk of extinction, but this time the mining and global warming that causes changes to the vegetation of the tundra are seriously threatening the inhabitants of this territory.
Reindeer meat is the most important part of the Nenets’ diet. It is eaten raw, frozen or boiled, together with the blood of a freshly slaughtered reindeer, which is rich in vitamins.
Every Nenets has a sacred reindeer, which must not be harnessed or slaughtered until it is no longer able to walk.
When men would go to hunt, women would tell the stories and educate the children about core values to maintain order and to encourage safety from an early age, ensuring that the children knew how to critically analyze dangerous situations and connect with the culture’s spiritual essence. Mothers and grandmothers would pass down religious motifs and origin stories, building pride and understanding in children. This central power to shape and form the minds of the youth gave women an influential voice.
Amazed by this family, who live in perfect harmony with their surroundings in polar conditions. These days spent with them will change me forever.
Marco was born in Rome in 1967 and has been photographing since the age of 12 when he received his first camera, a Nikon FE, as a gift from his father, which he still keeps and uses sporadically. Since then, he never stopped looking at the world from behind the camera’s lens. He has an engineering degree and is a manager. Photography is not his profession but his passion. He lives in Rome with his wife Erika and daughters Ludovica and Cecilia. Marco has attended courses and seminars held by leading Italian and international photographers, with some of whom he has established friendships with. He has won several national and international awards. He cares about social and cultural issues; he has photographed peoples and stories at every latitude, at all temperatures and in all environmental conditions, seeking to establish relationships rather than steal portraits… attempting to retain what by its very nature is destined to pass away, man and his affairs.
All images and text 2018 © Marco Marcone
By Marco Marcone
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