Melting the ice in the heart of man (2017)

Ice layer © Jasper Coppes

While the melting ice raises seawater levels across the globe, in Greenland this process lays bare new land, ready for mineral mining. These future areas of exploitation might offer the country financial independence, but at the same time forecast ecological disaster. Environmental neglect and cultural oppression often go hand in hand.

In his 2017 project, film-maker Jasper Coppes established connections with the native Greenlandic community during a short stay in Nuuk. He investigated the iconography of Greenlandic indigenous relations with the drastically changing landscape. His aim was to set up a collaborative film production and to work towards a critical understanding of the differences between colonial and indigenous audiovisual perception of the changing arctic environment.

Film still: camera Ulannaq Ingemann © Jasper Coppes

In 2020 the resulting experimental film Aasivissuit will have its world premiere. The film is produced by VRIZA and co-produced by UiLU indigenous stories, and was recorded with a Dutch and Greenlandic crew.

Point of departure for the short film is an area in Greenland with great cultural value (UNESCO). Local nature expert Adam Lyberth, park ranger Francisca D. Olsen and archaeologist Pauline Knudsen are leading protagonists that guide our journey through the landscape.

The film Aasivissuit goes beyond showing human endeavours against the backdrop of a stunning landscape. The film redirects the way we look at the land, by making tangible how deep layers of the earth are entangled with far away shores; how present, past and future melt together; and how human and non-human entities live in unison.

To give this landscape a voice, director Jasper Coppes uses artistic strategies which he has developed in his artistic practice. With these, the camera penetrates minerals, or shows the vantage point of the raven. With these artistic experiments the director aims to formulate a visual language in which the landscape is not excluded anymore, but can join the conversation about its continued existence. This approach is strongly related to the way in which the native Greenlandic population, the Inuït, have traditionally established a dialogue with the landscape. It is an attitude, passed no from generation to generation, in which nature and culture, the past and the future, cannot be seen separately.

Climate change is one such phenomena that does not let itself be restricted by modern divisive thinking. It does not stop at borders, but makes us realise that everything is connected. When in Greenland the mountains grow because of the weight that is lifted from the melting inland glacier, in the Netherlands, Denmark and the UK the coastal areas will eventually flood.

Film still: camera Ulannaq Ingemann © Jasper Coppes

Aasivissuit challenges the viewer with artistic means to reconsider the division between culture and nature, traditional knowledge and science, one country and another – that are so characteristic of modernity. In this time of global transition man will have to enter into a new dialogue with the land, if he wants to have a chance at survival. The image that is suggested in the film is in alignment with the alarming predictions about climate change, but also offers new perspectives and as such inspires hope.

Film still: camera Wim van Egmond © Jasper Coppes

Applicant: Jasper Coppes, Netherlands