Back to Uummannaq

April 9 - 25, 2015

Uummannaq, Greenland

Written by Zhiwei Zhu


Spring (especially April) in Uummannaq is the best time for a long ride on the beautiful sea-ice with rising temperatures and increased daylight due to the soon coming midnight sun period. Our partner Uummannaq Polar Institute (UPI) usually organizes educational travels and expeditions with young people since 1994.

This is also a particularly good time of the year to see environmental and social changes, for instance looking at quality of ice and impact on populations. In Uummannaq, the last 15 years - the warmest years in the history - have seen the retreat of glacier ice and the worst sea-ice conditions. 

The task for the ARTisticc research team is to keep on collecting voices and opinions to better figure out the current - and most relevant - challenges the community is facing and the adaptation process. It is also to experiment a fruitful collaboration between researchers and Greenlandic artists to create a better way of reaching the local community.

Mateo Cordier, Jean-Michel Huctin and Zhiwei Zhu are the research team for this second fieldwork. Greenlandic design artist Lis Stender and filmmaker Peter Jensen will join the research team. UPI will organize workshops and meetings. With local young residents and "People, culture, climate and nature" - UPI's motto - always in focus...

Dogsled expeditions of the UPI on the sea-ice in front of Uummannaq island


April 3th, 2015: Preparation meeting at l'OVSQ

It's a rainy morning, the team UVSQ-OVSQ organize a meeting for preparing the fieldwork of Uummannaq: the program for the 2 weeks' work, how to continue the work of the first fieldwork, etc.


April 9th, 2015: Take to the road

In Paris, 50% of flights canceled on Thursday 9 April because of an air traffic control strike, fortunately the team UVSQ-OVSQ arrived safely in Copenhagen on time, they are waiting for the flight to Uummannaq tomorrow.

A man with his dog sitting on the bench in Copenhagen


April 10th, 2015: On the road to Uummannaq

​After a long trip, Mateo Cordier and Zhiwei Zhu from the UVSQ-UVSQ team and Lis Stender, Peter Jensen (2 Greenlandic artists) join with Jean-Michel Huctin in Uummannaq (Jean-Michel have been in Uummannaq since last week).

3 stops between Copenhagen and Uummannaq

Mateo is walking out with Lis and Peter

Mateo and the son of Peter and Lis: Inuk

There are already 7 teams from different countries working at Uummannaq, it seems that Uummannaq is a international place, the traditional ideology and the foreign culture interwine at the small down.

At the evening of our arrival, the director of the UPI and the Children’s home organizes a welcome dinner for the guests.

Dinner between friends

Jean-Michel, Lis and Inuk


​April 11-12, 2015: First weekend at Uummannaq

​At Uummannaq, there are always some unexpectable events waiting for youIn the snowy morning, we are the witnesses for the victor of the dog-sledge race. 

​Everyone will not miss that

After that, the team members meet in the Children's home to make a planning for the next days, and to make sure there is not comprehension cap of the protocol between us.

Are you agree with me?

Heart of Uummannaq

​As all the churches, Mass is celebrated every Sunday and on other holy days at Uummannaq, In the church, someone tell us : "few years ago, this church was full of people, about 60 persons, and now you see, just half of the places in the church taken by the people, 25 persons or 30 persons, I think it's because there are a lot of things we can do, we have more options for our weekend".

Out of Mass

As one of the beautiful town in the world, Uummannaq attracts more and more people to come to enjoy her charm. 

Looking for the inspirations

Wonderful view from the highland of Uummannaq


April 13-17, 2015: Tough week, easy week

The first things we should do at the beginning of week is to make some appointments with some people.

Peter is translating the protocol to Greenlandic

Jean-Michel is trying to explain our project and make appointment with them

Modern live in a traditional town

Sun-dogs in the sky

Few weeks ago, about 10 children from Venezuela came to Uummannaq for a Venezuelan TV documentary: Children on the summit. At the end of their journey, they play music with some Uummannaq children in the local school. May be we do not speak the same language, but we can understand each other by music.

They are waiting...... 


Of course we get our first appointment for the workshop :-)

Mateo is showing a scientific graph to the focus group

Are you talking to me?

2nd focus group, 3rd focus group......

It's very interesting to listen to the people to tell stories

A scientific presentation can be very fun

Discussion about what we can do in the future

A focus group on Friday evening

Uummannaq can be summarized as the composition of this below picture: the mountain is still there, but the icebergs that front the mountain change every year...    

Mountain and iceberg


April 18-19, 2015: Sunny weekend

Maybe you can’t imagine, in Greenland, fishermen and hunters earn good money. but they usually support their family by their activity and here the price lever is higher than other countries.

Dog-sledge is still a vehicle for fishmen and hunters

Fishery is the mainstay industry in Greenland, fishmen earn more money than the people work in other sectors

Cultures interwined at Uummannaq (it will be a good commercial for Coca-Cola :-) )


Some phenomenons at Uummannaq are very interesting :

  • Everyone say hi in the street even they don’t know each other
  • You don’t need to lock your home when you go out
  • ......

Questions and answers

We show people our first fieldwork result


April 20-22, 2015: Last days at Uummannaq

​After a sunny weekend, Uummannaq starts to get busy.

We are trying to get people's opinion about what they think about scientific research

Good team work - 2nd interview on Monday

Uummannaq in the cloud

Tuesday is the busiest day since the team arrived at Uummannaq.

On the morning, a focus group is organized in the hunter school. This school is the only place where people can learn how to hunt and fish in Greenland.

Peter explains the presentation in Greenlandic


During the afternoon, the team is engaged in talking with the people who come from The Children's Home.

As not so much people speak English, a presentation in Greenlandic has been prepared

2nd focus group on Tuesday afternoon

Tuesday evening, a lot of people are invited to The Children's Home for a special dinner - A commencement for the children who have participated in the program "Under The Pole".

A wonderful evening

Child is very proud of himself

Wednesday April 22th - the last day at Uummannaq: Children play music on the ice. This loving concert is maybe the best ending for this study trip at Uummannaq.

Last interview at Uummannaq

Concert on the ice

Thank you to all of you (from left to right: Peter Jensen, Jean-Michel Huctin, Zhiwei ZHU, Inuk Stender Jensen, Lis Stender and Mateo Cordier) for this study trip.