Stories from Scoresbysund: Photographs, Colonisation and Mapping


Stories from Scoresbysund: Photographs, Colonisation and Mapping


(released January 2010)

Author: Pia Arke, with foreword and eight cartographical sections by Stefan Jonsson
Editor: Kuratorisk Aktion (Frederikke Hansen & Tone Olaf Nielsen)
Publisher: Pia Arke Selskabet & Kuratorisk Aktion, Copenhagen 2010
Type: Paperback
Language: English, with Greenlandic translation and original Danish text version appearing in the back
Size: 283 pages, incl. 59 b/w illustrations, 3 color illustrations, and 8 maps
Dimensions: 23.5 x 20.5 x 2.3 cm
ISBN: 978-87-993523-0-2
Distribution: Kuratorisk Aktion,
Price: DKK 349 / € 47 / US$ 60 (ex. handling fee, packaging, and shipping)

Stories from Scoresbysund is a trilingual reprint of Greenlandic-Danish visual artist and thinker Pia Arke’s seminal artist’s book from 2003. The book originated in Arke’s (1958-2007) bewildering return to her place of birth Scoresbysund in North East Greenland in 1997 – 35 years after she had left the small town. Scoresby Sound was colonized by Denmark in 1924 and populated in 1925 with families from Angmagssalik/Tasiilaq 1,000 kilometers to the south in an attempt to gain Danish sovereignty over North East Greenland in a conflict about the territory with Norway. Arke’s grandparents were among the Greenlanders, who were moved to this extremely isolated area. 
Arke had no personal memories of her birthplace and found that also the inhabitants lacked a history. The settlement’s past had no given place in their collective memory and the community lacked historical documents that could account for the years that had passed. Arke set herself the task of remedying this situation and collected documents about Scoresbysund that had been spread across Europe. She also documented the stories that the inhabitants themselves had stored away in their memories and photo albums. 

Arke’s book becomes an archaeological-aesthetic quest for her own and her family’s identity. The result is a fascinating collage of images and stories that re-tell Scoresbysund’s histories from below by presenting the throng of memories and recollections that have been left out of official Danish colonial history. In between these stories, Swedish cultural critic Stefan Jonsson delivers a series of cartographical chapters that pertinently contextualize Danish colonialism in the age of imperialism. Stories from Scoresbysund paints an overall picture of the geopolitical and world-historical processes that created Scoresbysund, but is at the same time a very personal story about Arke’s birth, childhood, and family.

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