The Nuuk, the bus ride and the ugly

One of these days I’m going to show you the most beautiful bus ride in the world…but for now please be content with a sneak peak of what many consider as a really ugly part of Greenland 🙂

These blocks are a controversial point of conversation in Nuuk, because they are deteriorating and laced with mould. They also symbolise the previous shutting down of settlements in Greenland and moving people like the hunters and fishermen from wild nature into the urban world and into ‘cubic living’. There were economical and logistical justifications for these actions, but it is a sore point in colonial history that sensitively touches the freedom of Greenlandic identity.

The last block is painted by an Icelandic street artist known as Mottan. These two strong figures, the woman and  the polar bear, create myths of their own. For more images and background info on street art in Nuuk, check out this story I wrote.

Just taken on my iphone – so it’s a small size video clip.

11 thoughts on “The Nuuk, the bus ride and the ugly

  1. Hi there, I hope you don’t mind me getting in touch. I work for a British television company and we’re researching for a documentary on Nuuk. We want to unearth what it is like to live in the smallest capital in the world and show our viewers in the UK what life is like in Greenland’s main city. Would be great to talk about your experiences over there if that’s something you’d be happy to do?

    Feel free to contact me on

    Very much looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best wishes


  2. These blocks are still beautiful compared to similar in other countries. For example in Communist East Germany they built whole areas of ugly grey apartment blocks. Many do still exist these days but most have been torn down as they are ugly, not energy efficient and second of all became a spot of bad reputation as they are cheap and hence available for lower income parts of the population and sadly with this also a higher crime rate…

  3. Van Helten’s work is superb…the mural facing HJ Rinkip Aqqutaa ? not feeling ‘the love’ there.
    I was up in Blok 5 recently and its depressing for sure but I’ve seen worse in New Zealand (admittedly stuck away in the ‘burbs.)
    The bloks in Sisimiut adjacent to Brugseni are as squalid (if not moreso) as you would find in Nuuk…trash everywhere,discarded prams,children playing in filthy gutters etc.

    • There are many UGLIER places so many other places! Actually, I think the blocks have a charm in their own way.

      I love the contrast of Van Helten’s work and Mottan’s because VH used a photograph, and Mottan just created something crazy from his head – and that’s what he always does. Wish I had that type of guts and imagination!

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