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My Planet

Yelena

Series
Yelena Yelena Yelena Mary GelmanYelena Mary GelmanYelena Mary GelmanYelena Mary GelmanYelena Mary GelmanYelena Mary GelmanYelena Mary GelmanYelena Mary GelmanYelena Mary GelmanYelena Mary Gelman
Yelena
Yelena
Yelena Mary Gelman
Yelena Mary Gelman
Yelena Mary Gelman
Yelena Mary Gelman
Yelena Mary Gelman
Yelena Mary Gelman
Yelena Mary Gelman
Yelena Mary Gelman
Yelena Mary Gelman
Yelena Mary Gelman
Yelena looks in the mirror in her studio.
Tazovsky village is located north of the Arctic circle. The closer you get to the village, the thinner the trees become.
Yelena is from the Nyach family. She is a fisherman’s daughter, born in the tundra, at the Yuribey factory located in the north of the Gyda Peninsula. Her family name is Yalyane, which means “the girl of light” in Nenets. Her grandparents had ten sons and no daughters, and their sons also had only boys. It was a real event when Yelena was born. She remembers her childhood in the tundra as happy time.
The village used to be a fishing center. It was founded in 1883 on the site of the old Nenets cemetery. Tazovsky is a center of industrial development in the polar north, where there is vigorous growth thanks to the construction and oil industries. The village is decorated with garlands and fir trees. There are many new residential buildings in the center of the village, one of them containing Yelena Ader’s studio, located in a one-bedroom apartment.
Yelena stays up late almost every day working in the studio on her orders and personal projects. She turns on a gas oven in the kitchen to stay warm. Sometimes friends come to sew and chat with her. For example, Larisa, a tundra woman who moved to the village after Yelena, spends almost all her free time at the studio. They met in the village and became friends because of their shared hobby: Larisa also likes to sew and now she creates and wears styled clothes like Yelena.
Tazovsky village, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area.
In order to sew, Yelena usually needs: quail beak, fish skin, reindeer bone, goose collarbone, reindeer sinew and skin. Nothing goes to waste in the tundra. Reindeer is the most important ingredient. Its intestines are used to prepare skins, and the contents of its stomach can be used to create face and body masks. Souvenirs can be made out of bones and teeth and reindeer sinew is used to make thread.
Yelena left almost her entire family behind in the tundra: her father, mother and brothers. Like many others, Yelena’s parents did not want to move to the village and decided to work for the rest of their lives in the tundra. Sometimes she visits them.
A stuffed reindeer at the Tazovsky local history museum.
Tazovsky village, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area.
Nature is the inspiration behind Yelena’s new clothing designs: “Sometimes I see a reindeer antler or footprints in the snow and immediately I can imagine what the next pattern will look like. And sometimes I get inspired when simply looking at reindeer in the camp… I created a bridal gown after seeing a swan motionless on the water.”
Yelena doesn’t eat store-bought meat or any pre-cooked foods, just fresh reindeer meat and fish her relatives bring her from the tundra.

“For me, my people are everything. My language and my people are always in me.” Yelena is a tundra woman who has sewn traditional Nenets dresses all her life. A few years ago, she started combining national elements with fashionable trends and her designs won her a mention in the Italian Vogue magazine. At the age of 20, Yelena made her first coat out of reindeer skin. She was taught by her grandmother, who gave her a piece of fabric and a match and asked her to imitate her movements with this improvised needle. Yelena knows how to sew, cook and find food: her brothers and father taught her how to hunt. After a five-year-long marriage she left her husband and her raw-hide tent and resettled in Tazovsky village. She took with her only her children and a small bag containing her personal belongings. She doesn’t use water and soap to wash or eat meat or processed foods from shops. Yelena sews a lot of styled clothes and takes pride in reminding people about beauty and the need to remember your language and culture even if you live far away from your family.

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