Changing Face

Photography by Tiina Itkonen. Interview by Noora Hostikka.

Tiina Itkonen has been travelling to Greenland regularly since 1995. She has explored the west coast of Greenland by dog sled, fishing scow, sailboat, helicopter, cargo ship and oil tanker, clocking over 1500 kilometres of polar roads. The changing face of the landscape and its people have been immortalised in Itkonen’s photographs, which form a chronology of a place in motion.

“In Greenland, fishing and hunting sea mammals provide income for many locals. They used to travel by dog sled and do long hunting trips on the ice. Now the traditional hunting culture is at risk as the sea ice is getting thinner and thinner each year and people need to forgo their dogs and subsistence,” Tiina Itkonen says.

Above image, Kuummiut, 2017. Ilulissat Icefjord, 2016.

Above image Niels, Qaanaaq, 2019. Below image, Sermermiut 1, Ilulissat, 2007.

“In the spring, I usually photograph at night. The light is soft and beautiful and has multiple shades of blue. It’s also very quiet until one of the dogs in the village starts to bark and encourages others to join the choir. And then it’s suddenly silent again and you can only hear your own breathing. I’m usually covered in clothes from head to toe, with only my nose peeking through the layers of fabric. Even though it’s really cold, the peaceful atmosphere makes you feel good.”

Above image, Home 1, Savissivik, 2016. Below image, Siku 2, Uummannaq, 2007.

 

“I’m working on a Piniartoq project with an American polar scientist. In the project, we illuminate the effects of climate change on polar bears, subsistence polar bear hunters and Inuit communities in Greenland. It illustrates how species conservation relies on working together with local communities and respecting different cultural values,” Itkonen explains.

Iittala supports WWF in its efforts to save the Arctic.