photo-book by Henrik Saxgren
Initially I wandered around on my own in the twilight, watching the warm glow of light from the windows in the houses, until I started to invite myself in for coffee with the old people in the village. It was something I have never regretted because their stories made me understand what a short period spans the gap between the past and the present in Greenland. It turned out that the old people, with whom I was drinking coffee in a modern house with running water and electricity, had grown up in peat cabins in a primitive village.
Henrik Saxgren, from the foreword
translated by Charlotte Barslund
Behind the ice gate lies the village of Ilimanaq near the mouth of the Ice Fjord in the Disco Bay. The area was an Inuit summer settlement from ancient times, but following the arrival of Dutch whalers and Danish missionaries in the 18th century, Ilimanaq took on the status of a village. The Dutch named it Claushavn. Ever since then Ilimanaq/Claushavn has been a vibrant village that has absorbed people from smaller villages nearby as they were abandoned. Today Ilimanaq is itself fighting for survival. The fish factory closed, and today the number of inhabitants is down to fifty. Private and public organisations are currently making a considerable effort to reverse this depopulation. But will they succeed? What does life look like in one of Greenland’s oldest villages when its existence is threatened?
The photographer and author, Henrik Saxgren, has visited Ilimanaq several times at different seasons and created this portrait of the village, the bay and the fjord.
Henrik Saxgren is one of Denmark’s most recognised photographers. He is also known for his great love for Greenland, and in the spring of 2017 he published the well-recieved book Ultima Thule. He has published more than 10 books and exhibited all over the world with his beautiful works. Read more about it at henriksaxgren.com