This is not real life


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Sometimes we come across a hostile place, a person or a situation, and nevertheless feel attracted to it. We do confront hostility in our lives, whether by circumstance or as a self-assigned challenge. Polish photographer Dominika Gesicka (b. 1981) travelled to Longyearbyen, Norway, the world's northernmost city, and started an ongoing project called This is Not Real Life. Gesicka describes Longyearbyen as “a place where no one is born and no one dies. Of course you can die anywhere but you cannot be buried here as it has been discovered that bodies fail to decompose here. You cannot be born here because pregnant women are to return to the mainland to give birth. There are no cats, no trees, no traffic lights”. Looking at Gesicka's series feels like trying hard to remember a dream when only brief flashes of it come to our mind. The photographs show landscapes, still-lifes and portraits that reveal the photographer's fascination through the use of neon colours, providing that dream-like feeling. The series is a collection of mundane visions of this Nordic environment, which turns out to be inexplicably charming for the viewer as well.

“Many people fall in love with this place at first sight”, explains Gesicka. “Some came here just for two weeks and stayed for five years, but not many decide to settle down permanently. Sometimes you have the impression that people here are trying to escape from something; that this is just a retreat. This is not a real life.”