Henrik Saxgren: Ultima Thule


Historically, Ultima Thule has been a concept for ‘the northernmost boundary with the end of the world’. For more than 200 years artists, writers, scientists and adventurers have felt the attraction of life on this boundary. As Henrik Saxgren writes on his website: ‘ I am just one in this succession and my contribution is modest. I do not add anything crucially new, but have taken on an obligation: the obligation to continue the tradition in which artists contribute to the exploration and documentation of life in Arctic Greenland. I too have felt the allure, just like others before me. Fascinated by the drama, attracted by the myths and, at the personal level, intent on testing my own courage – overcoming my own fear. I cannot take the liberty of calling my journeys scientific, and yet anthropology has played a prominent role in my method.’

‘Altogether I have spent more than six months in the Thule region, spread over six journeys. I have spent much of that time with the hunters on the sea ice. It has been a great challenge both mentally and physically. But also a unique experience. Yet however troublesome it has been, I have continued. The thought that others before me have made far greater sacrifices in quite inconceivably harsh conditions has prompted a humility in me – and incited me to continue. The coveted bonus has been that I have created new pictures that can supplement the narrative of the Arctic and contribute to our collective consciousness of being human. And then my pictures will be an important document that risks being the last record of the life lived by what may be the last generation of hunters on the sea ice of Thule, hunting and catching the great sea mammals, like their ancestors before them – several hundred, even a thousand years ago.’

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‘The planet has existed for more than 4.5 billion years, mankind for less than 200,000 years. In that perspective we are a very small hiccup. The planet calves its icebergs and freezes the seas to ice when it suits it. It lets the storms rage and the cold bite when it suits it. It is the planet that sets the conditions. If we want to be here, we have to adapt – or be crushed. How small we are in this game can be experienced most intensely in the Arctic. The people who have settled just beneath the North Pole know and live with the forces of nature. They know their place in the hierarchy and adapt in the awareness that their destruction is always a possibility. Every day they must conquer the fear of the ruthlessness of the landscape and make their way out into it. Every day they must show heroism. It is this dance on the edge of annihilation that is so alluring. Where the end is close at hand, the heroes are made. And the hunters in Thule are heroes.’

Text by Henrik Saxgren

Extra informatie


Ultima Thule


Henrik Saxgren


Hatje Cantz








27,8 x 33,5 cm






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