If there’s one thing we take from Mark Mahaney’s photo series Polar Night, shot over two months in Alaska’s northernmost town of Utqiagvik, it’s a profound sense of gratitude. Mostly, gratitude that we don’t live in Utqiagvik; a city that has to endure two months of straight darkness every year.
Mahaney sees it differently. “The unnatural lights that flare in the sun’s absence and the shapes that emerge from the landscape are unexpectedly beautiful in their softness and harshness,” he says. “It’s hard to see past the heavy gaze of climate change in an arctic town, though Polar Night is a visual poem about endurance, isolation and survival.”
The term ‘polar night’ is used broadly across all of our frosty, snow-covered regions. It defines that period of winter when, due to complicated celestial angles, the sun never actually rises above the horizon, shrouding huge patches of Earth with hellish, endless blackness – ‘day’ after alleged ‘day’.
This sounds fun, in theory. Sort of a two-month slumber party. But one glance at Mahaney’s haunting images seem to suggest the opposite: Utqiagvik without sun is Utqiagvik without fun.
You can check out more of Mahaney’s work here.