More Information
Author Dana Lixenberg
Pages 208
Signed No
ISBN 9789059731103
Publisher Paradox / Episode Publishers
Publishing date 2008
Publishing place Edam / Rotterdam
Language Dutch, English
Edition First edition
Binding Softcover
Book condition Like New
Cover condition As new
Dimensions (cm hxb) 22,5 x 16,5
AN INUPIAQ COMMUNITY SWALLOWED BY THE SEA As a result of global warming Shishmaref, a small island on the west coast of Alaska slightly south of the polar circle, inhabited by 600 Inupiaq, will crumble into the ocean in less then ten years time. Fourteen houses have been moved to safer ground already, another six are jeopardized by the violent waves of winter storms. The island and its inhabitants seem set to become the first clear victims of global warming and inadequate international environmental awareness. A majority of the Inupiaq population have voted to move to a new location on the Alaska mainland across the bay, where they hope to preserve their traditional way of life as much as possible. Debates held during the past few years about where to relocate, revealed tensions between the older generations and adolescents. The youth are bored with five bingo evenings a week and the modest sports hall as the only entertainment facility available. The grown-ups - and especially the women - fear the influence of the city and the accompanying confrontation with alcohol and drugs, still totally absent on Shishmaref, responsible for the collapse of so many small communities in this region and others. The Last Days of Shishmaref is a project employing diverse media which supplement and enhance one another: a website, a documentary film, a book, a touring exhibition and an educational project for secondary schools, accompanied by a DVD. By constructing a framework in which these various elements can continue to stand next to one another for the duration of the project, the project can become more than just a record of a given moment in time, interrogating both the notion of (social) identity in relation to location and the threat of global climate change. The countless news crews that visited the island over the past years paid no attention to the society as such. Almost all of them reported from the island in front of the house that hangs precariously over the eroding coastline. The climate message was the main focus of their stories. To filmmaker Jan Louter and photographer Dana Lixenberg, in contrast, the climate was a backdrop for the histories of people, of a community, of a life in all its paradoxical intricacies. Images of the hunt and of immense seascapes and snow-covered landscapes interact with intimate portraits and scenes from cluttered interiors. The impression it leaves yields more questions than answers: questions about identity, dignity, transience and mortality. What does it mean for an individual, for a culture to be forced to leave the land where their forefathers were born? In the exhibition Dana Lixenbergs photographs are presented alongside a spatial montage of film scenes from Jan louters film, shot by cameraman Melle van Essen. The current situation of the island will be featured as projected newsfeed and the accessibility of the website. The website containing background information on the island and on climate issues, also shows historic film- and photography material. Family ties play a central role in the book with photos by Dana lixenberg. The portraits, details from interiors, village tableaux, land- en seascapes give a nuanced impression of a close community balancing between a past rooted in tradition and an uncertain future. Lixenberg took her pictures with a large-format camera, a method that requires an intimate collaboration between the photographer and her subject. Combining a variety of contemporary and historical materials and the input of professionals as well as the community, the project will appeal to both readers with an interest in anthropology and photography as well as those concerned with climate change.

The Photobook: A History (Parr & Badger)

Dana Lixenberg: The Last Days of Shishmaref

Shishmaref is disappearing. The village on an island off the coast of Alaska is slowly but surely being swallowed up by the sea. Global warming is causing the island's protective permafrost layer to melt; the Chukchi Sea is freezing later in the season, leaving ravaging waves free to batter the island. It is estimated that the community of 600 Inupiaq Eskimos will have to leave their native land before 2020. Photographer Dana Lixenberg stayed in Shishmaref for several weeks during the winter and summer of 2007 creating a nuanced and complex portrait of this close-knit community, a community balancing between a past rooted in tradition and an uncertain future.
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