Bang Jette

Jette Bang was a Danish photographer who documented Greenlandic culture in film and photography. Initially hired by the Danish state in 1936 to document all aspects of Greenlandic life, she traveled throughout Greenland in six long journeys beginning in 1936. Bang published her travel experiences in several books of her photography, including Gr0nland (1940), 30,000 Kilometer med Sneglefart' [30,000 kilometers at a snail's pace] (1941), Gr0nlwnderb0rn [Children of the Greenlanders] (1944), and Gr0nland igen [Greenland Again] (1961).

Bang's films included Den yderste 0 [The Outmost Island] (1937), Inuit (made in 1938/1939 and shown to the public in 1948), Ad lange veje [Along Long Roads]

(1952), Et nyt Gr0nland [A New Greenland] (1954), Beduiner [Bedouins] (1959), and Trommedans i Thule [Drum Dance in Thule] (1964). Sixteen thousand of her negatives are kept at Arktisk Institut (Danish Arctic Institute) in Copenhagen, managed under the auspices of the Danish Polar Center, a governmental institution established in 1989.

Bang's images and texts invoked a sympathetic picture of the Greenlanders who she depicted in their daily life or, in some cases, in posed and arranged compositions such as portraits of mothers and children, seal hunters, and related scenes. Her photographic work and films function as a cultural and historical documentation of the Inuit culture on the edge of modernity. Her work provided audiences with a complex and often profound understanding of the Greenlandic mind and body. Moreover, it has been argued that Bang's representation of a well-nurtured, well-dressed, pleasant, picturesque people under Danish tutelage probably bolstered the Danish pride in Greenland during the German occupation of World War II, a difficult time in that country's history. The romantic, even nostalgic and mythic, images of Greenland functioned not only as social documents but also as subjective narratives.

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