This trip to Nanortalik was the second time I had been to Greenland, having spent my previous summer in a settlement in the east of Greenland, Ittoqqortoormiit. In Ittoqqortoormiit, we similarly created a summer camp for young people in the community in order to alleviate social problems caused by isolation and boredom.
I was intrigued to see how life in the south differs to life in the east of Greenland. My approach as a photographer was vastly different than in Ittoqqortoormiit (read about that here). I was less focused on the beautiful landscapes surrounding me, and more focused on the people and cultural interactions. I wanted to capture their experiences with us as volunteers throughout the time we spent there as a way to understand daily life in Nanortalik (see more here).
Both trips required a rather taxing journey. From the UK, it took 3 planes and 1 helicopter, exemplary of the solitude and remoteness of many Greenlandic settlements. Both settlements experience similar social problems as a result of this. Comparing the east with south however, the south was actually green, which, considering 80% of Greenland is ice, is not typical at all of all Greenlandic settlements. Nanortalik is also more developed than many settlements, with two grocery stores, two bars, a ship bringing fresh produce weekly, and tarmac roads. This is a stark contrast to what life can be like in smaller settlements on the east coast, where fresh produce is shipped just once or twice a year, and even that is weather permitting. Yet despite this development, a very traditional culture remains, with collective hunting and fishing still playing a huge role in daily life. Although Greenland as a country has been in a process of modernization for many years now; Nanortalik feels like where many settlements, like Ittoqqortoormiit will be developmentally in 5 years time; it's more modern Greenland, still however with a strong cultural pride.