Moving from Greenland: when icebergs become trees

Mia among the iceberg forest. Photo: Mighty Graphics

Mia among the iceberg forest. Photo: Mighty Graphics

Moving from Greenland is just as much an adjustment as moving to Greenland. The everyday of Greenland is certainly not the normal of many other places down south. What’s one physical change? Icebergs become trees. 

Mia Lindenhann from Ilulissat is an artist who moved to Denmark, and has thought alot about these ‘plants that fill the air’. This is her take:

I’m used to a free landscape, walking in between houses where there are no fences; and in nature where there are no paths. 

Trees are so fascinating for me. They amaze me. When you cannot move forward because there are trees in your way, it is just so weird.

I remember when I was four years old and just came out of the airport in Copenhagen, Denmark. I heard a loud sound that I did not recognise. I asked my mum what that was, and she pointed up. It was the wind between the trees.

It was a plant growing high up in the sky, and also growing sideways, filling up the air.

Trees, they take up place. When I used to walk in the forest, I felt that the trees surrounding me were almost falling upon me. They filled the air and the sky so much that I felt claustrophobic.

When trees become icebergs. Black and white analogue camera photo project. Photo:  Mia Lindenhann

When trees become icebergs. Black and white analogue camera photo project. Photo: Mia Lindenhann

The nature grows so slow in Greenland that trees do not grow up in the air. They don’t get as big and strong as in other countries. Even now, decades later, I’m still not used to these plants that grow up in the air. I’m used to walking freely. Trees are beautiful though, also in the winter. But weird.

On the other hand, icebergs are as common as grass for me. I grew up in Ilulissat, where icebergs were just always there. I was so shocked as a small child when I found out that there are not icebergs everywhere, even in Greenland.

Open landscape, and icebergs, they are my tall trees in the forest.

Mia Lindenhann is exhibiting her first solo exhibition at Ilulissat Art Museum until the 27th July 2015… so if you just happen to be there, check it out =)

Ilulissat. Photo: Mia Lindenhann

Ilulissat. Photo: Mia Lindenhann

7 thoughts on “Moving from Greenland: when icebergs become trees

  1. I spent a month in Iceland and remember when I got back to America being surprised by all the trees! It really is a totally different landscape.
    I’m more used to wooded areas, but I can definitely understand feeling closed in when its not something you grew up with.
    Beautiful story!

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  4. What beautiful words from someone seeing trees for the first time! I’ve grown up in a heavily wooded temperate climate, so not only are trees normal for me, but I find them comforting. I’ve never thought of a forest, even a dense one, to be claustrophobic. I’d love to see icebergs and open snowy landscapes like Greenland one day, but I think that if I lived there too long, I’d miss trees.

    • Dear StorytellerGirl, Trees and flowers and shrubbery in general are things which many people who move here miss. Particularly in the Spring time, when everything should be blooming. This is not to say that there aren’t things growing and blooming, but it’s a different type of vegetation and bloom. It took me 1.5 years to notice flowers in Greenland, but now I notice them everyday during the summertime.

      I thought it was interesting that Mia found the trees in the Danish forest were claustrophic, because to me they were actually very open forests and ‘friendly’ in a way. In fact, I remember thinking when I first visited Denmark I remember asking if they really could be called forests, there was so much space and light in between the trees. =)


  5. As someone who has grown up in mainly tropical climate, it’s fascinating to hear that in some parts of the world, icebergs are what you see all day. The world around you must look so pure. I don’t get claustrophobic when I’m in forests, though. I like the closeness of trees, and the sound the leaves make when they blow in the wind – I think of that as nature and the world speaking to me 🙂

    • Forests can be soothing to those that grow up with it. I’ve had a few conversations now with the Inuits here that they feel the uncomfortable when they can’t see ahead of them… Or above them. They look at other landmarks in the nature and observe other things. I would love to join a tracker /hunter one day just to know what they are thinking and looking at.

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