What’s in my bag – the Greenland edition

Check out the everyday essentials of the hip, powerful and avant-garde in Greenland.

Who are the people who live up North, and what do they treasure in their everyday lives? Greenland is not just a land positioned far far away from the rest of the world, but it is often placed in the ‘exotic’ category of people’s minds.

Are Greenlanders so different from the norm, however? Sure, the mostly snow-swept landscapes mean that one must live a certain rugged-up way in this country, but it’s a stereotype that all Greenlanders survive off the sea and land. In a nutshell, living in Greenland and being a Greenlander might not necessarily mean the end of the world as you know it.

"Greenland is often placed in the ‘exotic’ category of people’s minds."

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Arctic Umiaq Line

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That’s why two women, Arina Kleist,  a local of Greenland and Rebecca Gustafsson, a Swedish photographer based in the capital of Nuuk came up with a version of the popular #whatsinmybag project. In this portrait series, a variety of individuals from the urban hub are photographed with what they consider necessary for everyday life. Coffee is essential. Nuuk, positioned 64 degrees North, is the urban hub for coffee and skiing as opposed to dog sledding and ice fishing (it simply doesn’t exist there).

“We wanted to show the colourful diversity of today’s Greenlanders based in Nuuk, and their everyday items based on their profession and personality. Even though we may seem far away from the rest of the world, we are not that different”, explains Kleist.

  • Did you know

    Traditionally it has not been easy to be homosexual in Greenland, but there have been gay pride festivals held since 2010 and gay marriage in a church was legalised in 2016.


An individual featured in the #whatsinmybag series reveals more about life in modern Greenland via her popular novel Homo Sapienne. Niviaq Korneliussen’s bestseller in Greenland attracted so much attention that she was featured in The New Yorker as ‘Greenland’s unlikely literary star’.

Korneliussen’s novel follows five youth protagonists whose intertwining social and sexual relationships are explored in the urban setting of Nuuk. The stream-of-consciousness prose helps the reader to be in the characters’ shoes.

And you can imagine that reality inspired the prose: A lesbian herself, Korneliussen lets the characters learn more about identity and love through sometimes taboo experiences. One gets a glimpse of the youthful life in a small society where there is always three degrees of separation.

For example, Korneliussen writes in her book about how Nuuk is too small a place to avoid those you want don’t want to see, but too big a place to bump into people that you want to meet. The afterparty also functions as an important social meeting point.

“Bars close at 3am here, and if people haven’t gotten enough of partying then they need to go to an afterparty. It’s very peaceful and chaotic at the same time. People play music and enjoy life. You usually meet a lot of of new people there, and you can talk to them because you’re a little bit drunk.”

The book is available in Greenlandic and Danish, and is currently being translated into German and French. For now, you can find the first chapter available in English.

So for all of those armchair travellers out there, you can begin your exploration of modern day Nuuk through Homo Sapienne.


So who else can you meet in this photo series?

From a culinary chef, to a famous actress to an influential CCO, you can peek into the lives of different Greenlanders through their essential everyday items.

So go ahead and do that right now at Visit Greenland’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.

By Tanny Por

As Content Manager, Tanny curates and tells stories about living, travelling (and sometimes surviving!) in Greenland. She also supports and develops Visit Greenland's strategic initiatives across its different media and social platforms.

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