The Arctic Circle is an imaginary line which crosses eight different countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Iceland. For the last eight years, British documentary photographer Cristian Barnett took trips to each of this countries, curious to know more about how people live in such a climatically hostile environment.
What he found is that, while the freezing temperatures do create peculiar difficulties, the Arctic Circle communities are more modern than one might think, and that the Arctic Circle is ‘much more than snow and polar bears‘.
Read the full statement for Cristian’s long-term project Life on the Line:
“The idea for ‘Life on the Line’ came about after looking at the Arctic Circle on the map, and I became intrigued by the mysterious dotted line that dissected apparently vast empty spaces and I quickly began to formulate a plan for a portrait project.
An invisible line of latitude 66 degrees and 33 minutes north of the Equator, the Arctic Circle intersects eight countries and is home to a rich diversity of people for whom the sun never sets in high summer, nor rises in deepest winter.
My first journey north was in 2006 and I have shot the entire project on colour film with a medium-format Hasselblad. I have now managed to make eleven trips in the Arctic, shooting in some twenty-three cities, towns and remote villages. I have also achieved my ambition of taking most of the portraits as close as humanly possible to the Arctic Circle, however some of the people and landscapes were so extraordinary I extended my remit to include them. No portrait has been taken further than 35 miles (50km) from the Arctic Circle.
It has been an honour to spend time among many Arctic people – the Gwichin, Saami, Khanti, Nenets, Evenks, Yakuts and Inuit – and clearly the Arctic Circle is much more than snow and polar bears. There are many thriving modern settlements where you are more likely to meet a hairdresser than a reindeer herder. There is much more diversity to life here than one might imagine.”
Cristian Barnett’s Life on the Line is available as a photobook published by Polarworld – see here for more information. The project also has a dedicated website where you can see more of Cristian’s portraits.