Tiina Itkonen

Finnish, b. 1968

Uummannaq 6, 2010
27 ½ x 78 in. (70 x 200 cm)

Since Sir John Ross’s Northwest expedition, Western attitudes toward aboriginals are slowly evolving towards a greater consciousness of their unique and environmentally sustainable cultures. Contemporary artists such as Tiina Itkonen have embraced the Arctic and the accepting nature of its peoples.

Inspired by the creation story of Sedna, Mother of the Sea, Itkonen made her first trip to Greenland in 1995. The artist traveled to the region seven times and lived within the Inuguit communities for six-week periods.

Itkonen portrays houses nestled on the edge of a promontory in Uummannaq 6, a town located 366 miles (590 km) north of the Arctic Circle and home to 1,300 inhabitants of both Danish and Inuguit descent. While the introduction of colorful Western-style buildings adds vibrancy to this stark landscape, the way in which the artist crops the photograph dramatizes the precariousness of their existence. Itkonen’s photographs, collected in her book Inuguit (2004), reflect her observations and conversations with locals about the destabilizing effects of climate change on the nature and culture of the region.