C. SARMIK grew up on Dartmoor and found her early inspiration in observing and recording her traditional rural community. The documenting of people’s lives and stories shapes most of her photographic work. During winter 2014 she travelled to Arctic Siberia as the official photographer for a series of concerts by Carolyn Hillyer, Nigel Shaw, Tatyana Lar and Khadry Dzuba at the Nadym Reindeer Herders’ Festival, part of an ongoing exchange of culture and music between Yamal and Dartmoor. During her time in Siberia she had the opportunity to experience Nenets culture close up, both during the festival period and within the tundra choom (reindeer skin tent), including the preparations at one nomad family camp as they began the long northward migration. The stories she was given through these images are those of an ancient culture under threat, from environmental and social pressures, oil exploitation and climate change. She was asked by her Nenets friends to use her photos well; this beautiful book is her honouring of that request.
The foreword is written by Carolyn Hillyer, exploring the many levels of meaning in the mythology of the reindeer road and including song lyrics inspired by her Siberian journeys. The Nenets songs are sourced from Tatyana Lar, Nenets singer for her tribe and part of the Khra Khudi clan, who has represented her people by singing at the United Nations Forum of Indigenous People in 2007, and now teaches young people about their tundra culture as well as training apprentices to learn traditional singing and ritual. She has travelled to the UK twice to perform concerts on Dartmoor. Her song words are given in both English and Nenets languages. Some of the photos are accompanied by words shared by other reindeer herders.
YAMAL NE NYU (excerpt from song by Tatyana Lar)
I am the daughter of Yamal.
My white land is part of my heart
and the salve of my soul.
My white land has given me strength
and it frees my soul.
Ser’’ yakotsyami – seyni pelya,
ini savymda”ma. Yamal ilandami tavy,
ser” yakotsyami nyhydami tavy.
Syonzyani myuim’pyda savumdambi.
SALEY YAV (excerpt from song by Carolyn Hillyer)
There is a young reindeer laid on our backs
we carry her for miles across the ice.
The trees we pass are turned red like her blood
she is heavy but her breath is sweet.
As we walk she sings into our ears:
remember saley yav yo wey.