Notorious for brutal conditions, gulags were Stalinist-era forced labor penal camps in the Soviet Union, where more than twenty million prisoners were sentenced to mine, build railroads, and cut timber in order to settle remote areas of the vast communist nation. One of the largest gulag settlements was the Vorkutlag complex, situated along the Arctic Circle in the Komi Republic of Russia, where Donald Weber documented the lives and landscapes of the descendants of the former Zeks (thieves) and prison officials.

Donald Weber is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a World Press Photo Award, and the Lange-Taylor Documentary Prize, among other citations. He has exhibited widely and worked for international publications including the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, and Stern. He is represented by the VII Network.

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