Atmospheric and wryly observant, MELTING SOULS captures the dismal poetry of one of the most isolated and toxic cities on Earth.
Sited well above the Arctic Circle, Norilsk is a “city of science fiction”— a hellish industrial landscape in an otherwise barren tundra. Joseph Stalin developed the area to mine its natural resources and to house a virtually inescapable gulag. Today, industrial waste spews from the factories in what has become an otherworldly metropolitan area locked in the middle of an icy nowhere. Although Norilsk’s forced labor camp closed in 1956, most residents still can do little more than dream of leaving for Moscow’s sunnier climes. Hemmed in by limited economic opportunity, a stagnant real estate market, and thousands of kilometers of inhospitable terrain, the city’s inhabitants are stuck in a “vortex town.” But life in Norilsk isn’t without beauty; its bored residents dance, transform decaying industrial architecture into makeshift recreational facilities, and translate factory noise into pulsing music.