The Temporary Island

Shortlist 2021

Alexander Gaivoron

Alexander Gaivoron got into photography in 2008. Today he is not just a photographer; he is a photography teacher and a mentor. Gaivoron is the head of "List" - a photo society and workshop based in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. In 2009-2011 Gaivoron worked as a photojournalist at Pacific National University (PNU). He started a photobook project about Sakhalin in 2012 and has been working on it ever since.

The Compromise

The Temporary Island

I was born, grew up, and live in Sakhalin - the island in Russia's Far East. 
I do not want to leave my homeland - I feel at home here, and everything is familiar. Most of my friends moved to the big cities. As the locals call it - they moved to the mainland or the continent. Young people have a subconscious desire to move out from here. 
The famous Russian writer Anton Chekhov describes the islander's irresistible desire to move out in the book "Ostrov Sakhalin." It describes the times when the Sakhalin labour camps were operating and the lives of those who worked there.
Time goes by; generations change, the island is no longer a labour camp. However, locals still want to move out as strongly as before. Alongside the development of the oil and gas industries, many come here for shift jobs. 
Shift work is, in a way, a modern labour camp. People usually work in harsh conditions far from their families. Also, there are "settlers" who get full-time jobs and stay to live on the island. 
I guess the officials themselves see the island as temporary. Temporary government officials. Temporary houses. Not even houses - more like barracks. Temporary life. 
However, I know - there is still hope left—the island is changing for the better. 
I am sure - if every islander would feel here at home and would treat Sakhalin as a permanent place, then this unbelievably beautiful island would be a wonderful place to live and raise children.