Francis Latreille

1948 - , France
Dolgans, 2001
Far above the Arctic Circle on the Taymyr Peninsula in north central Siberia live the Dolgan people. Only 250 of these nomadic herdsmen remain in this isolated area where snow covers the ground ten months of every year and the harsh winter temperatures can drop below -76°F.
French photographer Francis Latreille spent several seasons with the last of these Asiatic nomads sharing the seasonal moves of their immense herds of reindeers. He also endured the terrible isolation of the lonf Polar nights and the struggles of their day-to-day existence. « Initially, I thought human beings could not subsist in such temperatures, live for three months in complete darkness with no electricity, with only a small woodstove to cook and heat their dwellings. It would be so simple to choose a more comfortable way of life, to forget customs, and to move to town as so many others have done. I was intrigued. What human feelings can survive when you spend all your time and energy on survival? »
Remarkably, what he discovered was an astonishingly happy and serene community and tells his photographs tell their story.
Latreille set up his studio near the Arctic Ocean in the village of Novorybnoyé. As a backdrop, a simple canvas brought from France was hung from the balcony of the house or put up on ice blocks.