Guillem Trius

2018 - Ongoing

Faroe Islands

All the islands or archipelagos, as opposed to the continental areas, have something in common regardless of where they are: an enormous mass of water marks its borders unequivocally, establishing spatial limits unmovable in time, and isolating them from their neighbors. In small-scale island regions this phenomenon is accentuated, since all its inhabitants perceive the disproportionate contrast between land and water; generating a feeling of belonging to a limited universe, detached from the rest of the world. All this is aggravated, even more, when the islands are in a very remote location, and do not have the possibility or future expectation of connecting to the nearest continent via tunnel or bridge.

The archipelago of the Faroe Islands meets all these circumstances, among many others, becoming a particular case worthy of study. In essence, the Faroese face two options: stay in their homeland, and accept what that entails, or leave in search of new opportunities and a different lifestyle. The final choice of the Faroese, therefore, is existential. Those who endure the hardships of isolation, or on the other hand, those who enjoy the tranquility of what is to be a true ‘outpost’ of humanity, make up the culture of the islands, drawing and turning it into the type of society that is today.

The Faroese society stands out for its traditional nature, based on the strength of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and a very particular demography: 50,000 inhabitants, living with 70,000 sheep. Precisely its name derives from the old Nordic term “Færeyjar”, which literally means “Islands of the Sheep”. The size of the archipelago and its small number of inhabitants, means that in the Faeroe Islands “everybody is known”, directly or indirectly. The pressure and social control exercised by the herd over the individual is enormous, as it is true that the successes are all known, the same way of knowing the errors and acts that deviate from the socially accepted.

A nation that is considered as a kind of tribe, in which community and family play a really important role. In Faroe, the weight of tradition is so excessive and rigid that - unable to stop the phenomenon of globalization - inevitably there are dilemmas and problems closely linked to homophobia, gender equality, or xenophobia.

Through the visual narrative of this project, we intend to show in a suggestive way what has been the vital issues in the Faroe Islands for centuries, as well as the new challenges it faces. Through a symbolic example: the fisherman who returns home - after several months on the high seas - will find an immutable society, which has remained stranded. In the same way and therefore, we portray the identity crisis suffered by young Faroese, and the exodus that these carry out in response to a set of customs and paradigms that no longer represent them.

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  • Betty Hansen looks at the sea from the window of her house. Traditionally men spend long seasons fishing on the high seas while women wait at home.

  • Harry Jensen checks the ropes that they use on the island of Skúvoy to descend the cliffs. The cliff of Skúvoy is one of the largest in the world. This makes it a perfect place to hunt birds since they build their nests there.

  • The Faroese archipelago consists of 18 islands of volcanic origin, of which 17 are inhabited. Its territory is predominantly mountainous. In the photo, Suduroy, the southernmost island of the entire archipelago.

  • Heinrik Old, Minister of Transport of the Faroe Islands, travels every week from the capital, Thorshavn, to his home island, Suduroy. Throughout his life he has combined his political activity with his activity as a fisherman. “I have dedicated more than 35 years of my life to fishing spending long seasons in the North Sea.”

  • The economy of the Faroe Islands was traditionally based on fishing. However, at the end of the 80s and the beginning of the 90s, fishing went through a serious crisis. Although the current situation has improved, they also try to diversify the economy by promoting tourism or new technologies.

  • From the end of the nineteenth century until the beginning of the twenty-first century, the total population of the islands has been multiplied by ten. However, in the 1990s, an economic crisis caused a strong emigration to Denmark.

  • Religion in the Faroe Islands is made up mostly by the Lutheran Church. Although it is one of the smallest state churches in the world, more than 80% of the population declares itself a Christian practitioner.

  • Símun Christian Olsen was born and raised in the coastal town of Toftir. Its town forms part of the area known as “The Bible Belt”. In this area of ​​the island of Eysturoy, the population is especially traditional and religious compared to the capital.

  • The traditional gastronomy of the Faroe Islands is based on lamb meat and fish. There is availability of fresh fish all year round but the consumption of dried, cured or smoked fish is also very common.

  • Meinar Ruer was born in Thorshavn 41 years ago. When he was young he moved to Denmark in search of opportunities. For 13 years he was living, homeless, in the streets of Copenhagen, for fear of returning to his country and talk about his failure. Now he has returned to the land where he was born and lives with his family in the capital.

  • In the Faroe Islands it is almost impossible to preserve anonymity. Their unique demography causes everyone to know each other directly or indirectly, share family ties or a common past. The Faroese make up a large herd of strong ties from which it is very difficult to separate.

  • On the island of Skúvoy, where currently only 10 families live in. Only 50 years ago, more than 100 people lived in it, but the lack of fish forced many people to migrate to other islands with more resources. In the photo, the Sørensen family still keeps the house that their ancestors had in Skúvoy and use it as a second home.

  • The Faroe Islands have more than 1,000 kilometers of coastline and have an abrupt, rocky morphology with cliffs. The relationship of its inhabitants with the sea is extremely close. No point on the island is more than 5 kilometers away from the sea.

  • Young people tend to go to Denmark or the United Kingdom to go to university, which means that the most qualified population, which could drive an economic transformation, leaves the Islands.

  • Once a year, during the summer, all the brothers of the Reynatrød dynasty gather to shear the sheep of their flock. The price of wool has dropped so much that it is no longer worth selling, and they use it to weave their own sweaters.

  • In the Islands, there are more sheep than people; there are more than 80,000 sheep and only 50,000 people. As an example, the Island of Lítla Dímun, one of the 18 islands that make up the archipelago of the Faroe Islands, is only inhabited by sheep.

  • Sólberg Olsen is a shepherd that has been taking care of more than 200 sheep on the island of Vágar for 25 years. Every day, no matter if it snows, there is wind or it rains, Sólberg goes to the lake of Leitivsvatn to care for, control and feed the sheep.

  • In the Faroe Islands there is silence, calm and solitude, but no man is an island. Despite integrating silence and loneliness in their way of being, the concept of tribe and identity defines the Faroese character.

  • “From this mountain I can see the house where I was born, the streets where I grew up and the cemetery where someday they will bury me” narrates a Faroese proverb. Despite limited resources the inhabitants of the islands are proud to be completely self-sufficient.

  • There is a network of boats that works independently of the climatic conditions and that connects the main islands. In the photo, the island of Nólsoy, which is the closest island to the capital, Thorshavn.