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Hans Bengtson, Jokkmokk, Sweden, 2010 | Courtesy of Cristian Barnett
Hans Bengtson, Jokkmokk, Sweden, 2010 | Courtesy of Cristian Barnett

'Life On The Line: Portraits From The Arctic Circle'

Picture of Paola Moretti
Updated: 24 April 2017
When Cristian Barnett talks about his book Life On The Line, he says the idea came simply by looking at a map. He became fascinated by the imaginary line that pierces through the ice and snow of eight different countries: the Arctic Circle. He wondered about a place where in Winter the sun never rises and in Summer it never sets, and about the people living there, so in 2006 Barnett went to the Arctic Circle for the first time.

 

Hans Bengtson, Jokkmokk, Sweden, 2010 | Courtesy of Cristian Barnett

Hans Bengtson, Jokkmokk, Sweden, 2010 | Courtesy of Cristian Barnett

 

Barnett journeyed through Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, shooting his entire project along the way.  Since then he has revisited the Arctic twelve more times, exploring and shooting 23 different cities, towns and villages. All of his portraits are taken with a medium format Hasselblad on colour film, and no photograph was taken further than 35 miles from the Arctic Circle.

 

Brett Connor, Kotzebue, Alaska, 2009 | Courtesy of Cristian Barnett

Brett Connor, Kotzebue, Alaska, 2009 | Courtesy of Cristian Barnett

 

His last trip ended in December 2013, in Finland, where Barnett managed to track down the  first subject he had ever photographed for this project. He found Timo and shot him again, in order to conclude the circle, seven years later.

 

Anatoly Galushkin, Zhigansk, 2013 | Courtesy of Cristian Barnett

Anatoly Galushkin, Zhigansk, 2013 | Courtesy of Cristian Barnett

 

The images show such a variety of landscapes and people, leaving the reader in awe of how little we truly know about the world. Moreover, the portraits reveal Barnett’s ability to connect with people; his subjects always look at ease and the result is a warm insight into the daily lives of those who live in some of the coldest places on Earth.

 

Mike Ivalutanar, Repulse Bay, 2010 | Courtesy of Cristian Barnett

Mike Ivalutanar, Repulse Bay, 2010 | Courtesy of Cristian Barnett

 

Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign started at the end of 2013, Barnett crowd-funded the necessary amount to publish the photo collection. The book has been available to the public since September 2014, and is a truly brilliant gathering of all polar artworks from the photographer. 

 

Lars Anders, Jokkmokk, Sweden, 2007 | Courtesy of Cristian Barnett

Lars Anders, Jokkmokk, Sweden, 2007 | Courtesy of Cristian Barnett

 

By Paola Moretti