Clémentine Schneidermann has a particular knack for sniffing out an interesting community and using her camera to get right to the heart of it. She recently found herself inexplicably drawn to Greenland and followed her instincts out there to uncover its mystique and document the people of its capital city, Nuuk. Or, as the local tourist board recently dubbed it, “Nuuk York.”
Nuuk is Greenland’s largest city, but has a population of only 18,000 inhabitants. Photographer Clémentine Schneidermann found herself drawn to it: despite having seen some other photography projects which focused on the landscape surrounding it, she had never met anyone who had actually visited Nuuk.
Clémentine, whose photography portfolio is almost exclusively people and small community focused, wanted to travel out to the city to investigate what kind of people inhabit these colorful houses on this misty, craggy piece of land. She was amused and inquisitive about how the city had been dubbed "Nuuk York" by the local tourist board as much as she was about Donald Trump casually announcing to the world that he wanted to buy Greenland in a similar way to the way you might announce you wanted to buy a new saucepan. Her curiosity resulted in this series of photographs called Nuuk (York).
Visiting for the first time, she was struck by just how difficult it is to actually get there, and the almost lunar landscape she witnessed on arrival. Nuuk is at once similar to many places in the world, yet curiously different. "It has two museums, four bars, one hotel, five bus lines, one fish market, a few supermarkets, one cinema, one shopping center, one cathedral, about 10 restaurants and a hospital, among other things," she explains. "Very quickly you realize that life there is pretty much like anywhere else in the Western world, minus McDonald's.”
Glance at some of the photographs Clémentine came back with and you may well believe they were taken sometime between the '80s and '90s. Others give away stark hints at how current they are. Most of this comes from the things the teenagers there are spending their pocket money on (AirPods, cross body bags, new Nikes), Internet-looted trinkets that betray the self-awareness of an online generation. Being online has brought the children of Nuuk life-altering access to Americanized culture, social media, YouTube and Billie Eilish. It's Clémentine's portraits of these young Greenlandics that tell you the most about this strange place on the brink of change.
"Nuuk has a very low crime rate and everybody knows each other so children are safe on the streets," Clémentine explains. "But growing up in Greenland can have its own challenges: there are a lot of issues there for young people. I haven’t spent enough time there to grasp fully what it is to be a child there, it takes more than a few weeks to really understand it.”