Finisterre - PhMuseum

Finisterre

Silvia Varela

2015

Faroe Islands

I am fixated with travelling to the confines of the earth. I fantasise that with each new voyage I move further towards Ultima Thule – the mythical place of medieval geography, beyond the boundaries of the known world, where the sun goes to rest. In these latitudes, landscapes trace the geography of the abyss. And who are the people who inhabit them, peering over the edge of the precipice?

Finisterre is the result of this fascination: a personal journey through the Faroe Islands, a jigsaw-shaped archipelago that stands alone in the middle of the North Atlantic, halfway between Norway and Iceland. I travelled to the Faroes twice last year, staying with people I met randomly, photographing them, their families and their homes, sharing their daily lives and listening to their stories. It is part documentary and part fiction – documentary in that it portrays real people and places; fiction in that it seeks to evoke rather than tell. It is an intimate cartography of the end of the world, drawn by walking inside the landscape, rather than standing in front of it; an imaginary map pieced together out of fragments, impressions, stories and chance encounters.

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  • A view of Klaksvik, capital of the northern islands and the second largest town in the Faroes.

  • A girl stares at the horizon at the village of Mikladur, on the Faroese island of Kalsoy.

  • Generations of the Gullaksen family have grown up in Fugloy, one the most remote and inaccessible of the Faroe Islands, though they no longer live there permanently. Only five permanent residents remain on this island, which during the winter months is often cut off completely for weeks at a time when the weather is too rough for both the ferry and the helicopter to reach it.

  • Family and lineage are central values in Faroese culture. Most homes have a wall of family portraits that date back many generations.

  • The port of Klaksvik, capital of the northern islands and the second largest town in the Faroes.

  • A stuffed great skua in a Faroese home. Every summer, millions of birds go to the Faroe Islands to breed. Over 300 different bird species have been recorded in the islands.

  • Marius Geilini grew up on Svínoy, a small Faroese island with a population of just over 30. His family moved to the capital, Tórshavn, but he chose to stay. He has encyclopaedic knowledge of the birds of the Faroes.

  • A wave crashes on the rocks at the village of Mikladur, on the Faroese island of Kalsoy.

  • Dragon figure on the bow of a rowing boat, Klaksvik, Faroe Islands.

  • Embroidered and painted depictions of village scenes and landscapes at a home in the village of Hattarvik, one of the two villages in Fugloy, the northernmost of the Faroe Islands.

  • Portrait of Poulina at home in Klaksvik, capital of the northern islands and the second largest town in the Faroes.

  • View of the island of Svínoy from the village of Hattarvik, one of the two villages in Fugloy, the northernmost of the Faroe Islands.

  • Johannes and Kaja at home in Suðuroy, the southernmost of the Faroe Islands, where they have lived all their lives.

  • View of Klaksvik, capital of the northern islands and the second largest town in the Faroes.

  • Mother and baby on board the Ritan, the old ferry that connects the remote northwestern islands of Fugloy and Svínoy to Klaksvik, the capital of the northern islands.

  • Mail bags on the pier at Klaksvik, Faroe Islands, waiting for the old mail boat that delivers the post to the northern islands.

  • Helipad at Hattarvik, one of the two villages of Fugloy, the northernmost of the Faroe Islands. The most remote of the Faroe Islands are only accessible by ferry or, more recently, helicopter. This means that during the winter months they are often cut off completely for weeks at a time when the weather is too rough for both the ferry and the helicopter to reach them.

  • Portrait of a Faroese girl on a school outing at Mikladur, on the Faroese island of Kalsoy.

  • A border collie stares down from the top of a mountain above Klaksvik, capital of the northern islands and the second largest town in the Faroes.

  • Jessel and Símun at home in Klaksvik, Faroe Islands. Jessel is from the Philippines. Many young Faroese women leave the islands to study abroad and never return. Out of a total population of around 50,000, men outnumber women by over 2,000 in the Faroe Islands. Former chief economic advisor Hermann Oskarsson has warned that the population could fall to 37,000 by 2023. Faroese men have begun to look for partners elsewhere: there is a growing community - around 200 - of Filipino and Thai women in the Faroe Islands. Jessel says she feels at home as a Filipina in the Faroes, since both are island communities with strong family values.

  • View from the kitchen at the house of Hans Petur Kjærbo, the lighthouse keeper at Akraberg, on southern tip of Suðuroy, the southernmost of the Faroe Islands.

  • Ronja on the day of her confirmation ceremony. Ronja grew up as the only girl in the remote and enigmatic island of Mykines, the westernmost of the Faroe Islands and home to some of the richest bird cliffs in the world. Her confirmation was the first to be celebrated in Mykines since 1962.

  • Poulina standing on top of a mountain outside Klaksvik, capital of the northern islands and the second largest town in the Faroes.


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