Greenland — Current Project (2021- )
During a 24-hour visit to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, in 2018 as part of an educational tour focusing on the history, science and culture of the Arctic I was struck by its unusual geopolitical history and stark evidence of the effects of climate change nearby. The town was founded by the American military as an air base in the 1940s, which lasted some 50 years, but that history and corporate interests that took advantage of the airport and harbor built by the Americans has shaped the town's landscape and postcolonial present. The village is about 19 miles from the ice sheet that covers 80% of Greenland, and the retreat of the ice edge and melting of the permafrost due to a warming climate is ominously obvious. I obtained a 2019 Rubys Award from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation to travel there to work on a photo project, which I finally got to do in September 2021 when the country reopened after being closed to international travel during most of the pandemic. I have been collaborating with the Kangerlussuaq Museum, who have provided logistical support. In exchange, I am making photographs available for them to redo the exhibits and make them more relevant to the local population and to today's environmentally conscious tourists. My ultimate goal is to produce a photo book and exhibition, the only book on the town's history in any language, and the only exhibition about it outside of Greenland. I believe that compelling visual images will help bring home the seriousness of the climate change problem and the urgency of the entire world confronting it now. My project will also illuminate a little-known corner of American and Danish history related to their presence in the region and its lasting impact, as Greenland aspires to a postcolonial future independent of the Danish governing authority.