Augusta

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Augusta was born in Greenland in 1921 as the seventh of fourteen brothers and sisters. At the age of 30 Augusta, who had become a bookbinder, married a Danish engineer called Sven Petersen. They set up house together in the town of Nanortalik in the southernmost part of Greenland and had three daughters. In 1980 Augusta and Sven moved to Denmark. The last time Augusta visited Greenland was in 1988. It has gradually become clear for the family that Augusta will not be visiting her family in Greenland again.

The considerable size of Augusta’s family is not atypical of its time. From the parents Bolette and Jonathan Petersen, there are today 437 now-living descendants distributed over five generations, of whom 165 live in Nuuk, Greenland and 140 in different parts of Denmark. The other family members are dispersed and live, for example, in the Faeroe Islands, Sweden and the USA.

This project aims to give Augusta a glimpse of her Greenlandic family and at the same time produce a living portrait that places the family in the Greenlandic landscape, but, as the video shows, the weather is an incalculable factor.

In the 1950s and 1960s a radical modernisation process took place in Greenland, which changed its status from that of a colony to that of a Danish county. And the Greenlandic population moved rapidly from a hunting and fishing culture to a modern urban culture. Many children of mixed marriages received their schooling in Danish-language classes and thus ended by being without a language in their own country. The radical changes have also had negative effects in the form of massive social and psychological problems among the population. Like all families, this family also contains a multiplicity of stories, fates and differences. These differences may not be visible in this living family portrait, but they lie under the surface as an imaginary reality.

Eva Koch © 2008 / Pal 4:3 / Stereo / 5:59 min