Oded Wagenstein – Like Last Year’s Snow

Oded Wagenstein

Like Last Year’s Snow

inside Siberia’s isolated community of forgotten women

In the remote village of Yar-Sale in Northern Siberia, lives a group of elderly women. They were once part of a nomadic community of reindeer herders. However, in their old age, they spend most of their days in seclusion, isolated from the world they loved and their community. While men are usually encouraged to remain within the migrating community and maintain their social roles, the women often face the struggles of old age alone.

(* Like Last Year’s Snow is a Yiddish expression – referring to something which is not relevant anymore)



I am using photography to explore the relationship between Aging, Longing, and Memory. I took a flight, a sixty-hour train ride from Moscow and a seven-hour bone-breaking drive across a frozen river to meet them. I immersed myself in their closed community and for days, over many cups of tea, they shared their stories, lullabies, and longings with me. On this series, the memories of the past, represented by the images of the outside world, are combined with the portraits of current reality. By doing so, I tried to give their stories a visual representation. One that could last after they are already gone.  

Why aging? After losing my grandfather, who was a majorrole model in my early life, I became both interested and frightened by the subject of Aging. Not long after, I discovered the power of photography and I was fascinated by the ability of the photographic image to freeze time and thereby, overcome its influence.

Over the past five years, I have been on a journey where I have met elderly people from different communities around the world. I wanted to hear their stories and memories, longing and fears. I am not sure this journey helped me to overcome my fears, but it allowed me to explore them.


Short Bio

Born in the Middle East to a family of migrants from the Balkans, Oded Wagenstein (1986) uses the photographic medium to explore the relationship between Aging, Longing, and Memory. 
Graduated in Sociology, Anthropology and in Film, from Tel Aviv University. His work has been published in the BBC, National Geographic, The Guardian, National Geographic Traveler among other platforms. He published three books. He is also a senior lecturer at the Galitz School of Photography, based in Tel Aviv, where he teaches thousands of students, both Jews and Muslims to use their cameras as a bridge, connection and exploration among them.

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