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Andrea Gjestvang

Disappearing Ice Age

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During the last century, adventurers have traveled to Greenland to explore this unknown land of ice and myths. The pictures they brought show brave men, heroes fighting nature. But still, many of us know very little about life on the world’s largest island, where 57,600 inhabitants live on 15 % of the land. The rest is covered with ice. When I first traveled to Greenland in 2008, my curiosity was triggered to take a deeper look into a culture going through dramatic changes. Greenland is one of the areas of the world most strongly affected by climate change. With the melting ice, traditional living conditions are slowly vanishing. This is posing a serious threat to the Inuit’s society, whose culture and livelihood is dependent on nature, especially through hunting and fishing.

Since then, I have spent time on the west coast, in the far north and on the east coast. I always traveled alone, and lived with local families. Drawn towards the more intimate family and community life, I wanted to explore another side of Greenland than the infamous and idealized hunter’s world. I was curious to explore what happens to the individuals and the community when traditions disappear, and people need to reinvent their values and outlook of the future.



Andrea Gjestvang (born 1981) is a Norwegian freelance photographer currently based in Berlin. She divides her time between working around Europe for the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang, and pursuing her own projects. “Disappearing Ice Age” was funded through a scholarship by the Freedom of Speech Foundation (NO), and the project has been exhibited in solo shows and festivals in Norway, Italy, Germany and the US among others, as well as published in various magazines. Together with 11 other young photographers, Andrea was selected for Joop Swart Masterclass 2010, which took place in Amsterdam the week of October 28th, 2010. The results of this week can be seen here. Andrea is represented through Moment Agency and is a founder of www.heartbeatphotography.org


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Andrea Gjestvang

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14 thoughts on “andrea gjestvang – disappearing ice age”

  1. Wonderful photos but I’m not sure it has that it shows much about climate change, but a nice intimate look at a country.

    Why the explicit content warning?

  2. ANDREA! :))

    first of all, BIG CONGRATULATIONS on being part of this year’s Joop Swart Masterclass ! :))….you’re in good company indeed….

    also, big congrats on being published again here, …..it is a beautiful, poetic and, in the end, richly celebratory essay…in essence, for me, it isn’t at all about the adults/people of Greenland, but about the children of Greenland…it is photographed and defined by a very rich and vibrant, luminous child-like view of the world: not harshness and tragedy but wonderment and exploration. The essay feels as if it was shot by a very special and insightful kid growing up there, defined by the physical beauty of that gorgeous gorgeous northern life: a being in itself….

    the opening image just knocked me, not the least of which is that the boy looks like my nephew…and this dream-like opening, cinematic and lyrical, set the stage for a kind of northern fairy tale……that hypnotic green gremlin in the sky, the dream kiss, the seals like sleeping pets or better the ‘uninvited guest’ of edward gorey, the frozen night soccer, the 3-d glasses dream film, the leap to flight, the extraordinary and NG ironic #13, children dreaming their lolipop village to life, the extraordinary Gjestvang portrait of #20 which mirrors the portrait from your series Inside/Out (the overweight drag queen smoking the cigarette), the child peaking out into the world to break is sleep, the weight toward the endless sea, adrift…

    it is a very good example of taking the architecture and look of ‘documentary’ photography and turning it into a tender and celebratory narrative that is part fairy tale and part dream….

    not fully ‘safe’ this world at all (the nazi, the blood, the death young) but it is about flight, imaginative, swift, repeating, gorgeous flight….

    and then we’re swallowed by the green goblin in the sky…..


    congratulations andrea


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  4. I returned from last night’s “Eskimo Dance” in Barrow and took as good a look at your photos as my malfunctioning laptop would allow:

    Arigaa, Andrea!

    Nice start. I will keep my eyes peeled to see where you go with this.

    Akaky – The food of another culture may not appeal to you, but there is no need to mock that culture.

    PS: If you want to see a few scenes from that dance, I will should have it posted within the hour. Some of the images may look a little odd, as I had to use this same malfunctioning laptop and cannot see the images good enough to color balance, process, adjust tones or even know how sharp the focus is,

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  6. Absolutely amazing images! breath taking. My name is Per Nicolaisen and I am born and live in Tasiilaq, East Greenland. I know of the people you have photographed, seen and talked to many of them. I simply have to disagree that “With the melting ice, traditional living conditions are slowly vanishing”. I personally believe that this is because of globalization. Peoples lifestyle is moving from a traditional hunting lifestyle to a modern lifestyle and a warmer climate is moving the change faster than the small settlements across the greenlandic coast can handle. But I guess “global warming” is a better selling point for this article :-(

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