The Female Gaze

Month: August, 2014

Heroes and Henson

I grew up seeing (receiving?) a very specific photographic representation of Greenland, which was in many ways quite similar to the way Iceland has been represented through photography for the last decades. It has, I think, a lot to do with one man; Ragnar Axelsson or RAX. And of course a few more. These men downed polar bear pants and reindeer jackets and sat on dogsleds for days looking for a live version of what they were wearing. Or more specifically looking to capture an image of the natives hunting these animals, living off the land. These men braved the stinging cold and the brutal storms, spending time on the ice alongside the people of the arctic. They then presented us with a crazy, nostalgic and dramatic visual alphabet of contrasts. The letters of this alphabet were in caps lock and spelled the loudest and most important of words but its letters were few and the vocabulary limited. As with any type of photography or other means of representation. These men were HEROES. Heroes with cameras. I am not.

Today I head to Greenland in a kind of reaction to these dazzling versions of the North. I set out to gather moments to make up my version. It will not be the truth, or accurate in any way, but it will be a truth and my version.

A few weeks ago I attended a lecture of RAX about his work and he shared a little anecdote: “When the Greenlanders wanted to dress up for the camera they would take off the hunting gear made from skins and put on brightly colored Henson-outfits. In their eyes that was the stuff. Then of course I had no longer any interest in photographing them.”

I now dream of making that photograph.

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These photographs are taken from RAX’s series The Hunters of Greenland, more here: www.nytimes.com

The trip to Greenland and Moderlandet-project is made with the help of the Vestnorræni höfuðborgasjóðurinn and Air Iceland / Flugfélag Íslands.

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Moderlandet – The 1% of Blok P

How do you imagine a land, a place, a nation? And how does one document those things?

The coming months I will use this blog as a venue for posting thoughts and musings, progress and failure in capturing the nations of Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland. The name of the project Moderlandet or The Motherland refers to how these nations were once united under the Danish flag and my intentions of looking into the relationships between these countries using photography as my medium.

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My first trip to Greenland looms near and feeling daunted and excited I make little Google-rounds to see if I can get any closer. One of my favorite things found on these digital trips is Blok P. Blok P was a gigantic 200 meters long residential building erected smack in the center of Nuuk in 1965-66 in an effort by the Danish government to modernize the Inuit lifestyle. Until its demolition in 2012 this graffiti covered modern monster housed 1% of the country’s population in 320 flats.

Blok P was by no means designed to fit its future occupants who would have trouble entering narrow doorways in bulky gear and clog drains with blood from their pray dragged up five stories to be gutted in the bathtub. Nor was it designed to add beauty to the capital of Greenland. This architectural catastrophe is very much reminiscent of Le Corbusier’s Radiant City attempting efficient storage of human beings, whose lives were to be lived with utmost efficiency, not enjoyment. Lonely Planet described Blok P as “…so depressing that it’s almost an attraction in itself.”

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The trip to Greenland and Moderlandet-project is made with the help of the Vestnorræni höfuðborgasjóðurinn and Air Iceland / Flugfélag Íslands.