Blasting the Language of Colonialism: Three Contemporary Photo-Books on Greenland

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Throughout the nineteenth and most of the twentieth centuries, photography was among the main tools for communicating knowledge about Greenland to the rest of the world, not least to the Danish public. Photography was originally used by Arctic explorers as well as by the colonial system. With
few exceptions, such as the documentary photographs and films of Jette Bang, the visual image
transmitted through photography was highly stereotypical: ice and wild nature, peopled by tough
sealers and hunters. Documen
tary photography and art in general, from Greenland as well as
Denmark, usually confirmed this image. Recently, however, new narratives have begun emerging
among contemporary artists, many of whom use photography in radically new ways to construct an
native ‘ethno
aesthetics’, to use Pia Arke’s term. This article discusses three photography
books, published almost simultaneously: Pia Arke’s
Stories from
(2010), Jacob Aue Sobol’s
(2004), and Julie Edel Ha
Den stille
mangfoldighed/The Quiet Diversity
(2005). It brings them together to show how they
simultaneously follow recent developments in contemporary global art as well as step into the
tradition of that most referential of media, photography,
and manage to ‘blast’ this tradition from
within, thereby representing an important renewal of the discourse of photography.
Original languageEnglish
JournalKULT. Postkolonial Temaserie
Pages (from-to)66-89
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Number of downloads are based on statistics from Google Scholar and

No data available

ID: 169884213