Mr. Ponomarev, you travelled with your camera to the Canadian North and documented the life of the Inuit. How did this come about?
It was a commission from the New York Times. The editors wanted to report on the reconciliation between the Canadian government and the indigenous communities. Working with the reporter Catherine Porter, I took a closer look at how they live today. We focused on the village of Cape Dorset, which is known for its Aboriginal paintings. In the end we stayed there for a whole month.
Was it difficult to work in the cold in the far north?
The biggest challenge was actually that I had to travel first to New York, then to Ottawa and then to Cape Dorset. I took four planes in total. In New York, I also lost my luggage on the way. I arrived without proper clothes and had to buy replacements in the airport souvenir stores. That meant I landed in Cape Dorset with a pile of “Canada” T-shirts from Ottawa. Some people said: “Man, are you serious?” People from big Canadian cities are not always viewed well in the North.
What impressed you the most?
How I slowly became part of the community. In the end, I was even allowed to come to a graduation party, I watched hunters and fishermen at work. That was the beginning of June, which in the far north corresponds to the beginning of spring. The snow and ice melted very quickly. I was especially fascinated by the icebergs that swam in the bays and got stranded on the small islands at low tide and melted there. They looked to me like spaceships that had just landed.
Interview by Leonie Düngefeld
Translated by Jess Smee