The Stolen Moments

Expedition Avannaa travels 4000 km in a small open boat “the North Greenlandic way” – the hard way. We travel with laconic “hunter’s” style equipment which implies minimum of comfort and gadgets. Our mission is to observe and record life that exists in Avanersuaq (Thule District) today to make sure that the voices of the northernmost inhabitants of the North are heard.

Our small open boat may be too small and too open for the sea like that. But we chose to travel this way – the Greenlandic way – to be able to see the smallest things, the nearest things.

When we are on the move, we live like Greenlandic dogs: we sleep in the cold, and we eat only every other day. But should we complain? By no means. What may be seen as a hardship by some, derives straight from the spirit of our expedition and it reflects its free unobstructed mind. In other words, we have nothing to complain or feel sorry about.

If anyone really wants to know what Expedition Avannaa is and what it is not, take a look at this face. This is the face of Expedition Avannaa. And in this face, like in an open book, you will read everything you may want to know. There is very little we can add to that.

Soaked to our bones, thirsty and sleepless, we are now ready to accept and adapt. But of course, we can’t give up on dreaming. And the time passes our dreams get wilder and wilder and sometimes the border between a dream and a reality simply disappears.

Summer is eternal in Qaanaaq. We live through these stolen moments of infinite beauty that does not exist in our everyday world. We live through them, and then all of a sudden our normal, routine world retreats, diminishes and finally disappears entirely, and the new, infinite world takes its place. And we call it life!

Some things come as a surprise. Like this moon in Savissivik. But of course, you have to pay a full price for it. And we did.

Stolen Moments. They are about roaring sea and almost deafening silence. And they are about the smallest things, the nearest things, often invisible things. These are Nikolai Kristensen’s dresses made out of small plastic beads. Initially, they look like dust. As meaningless and boring as dust can be. But then something happens. Then – all of a sudden – they come together, one by one. Thousands, they come into one and miraculously turn into a masterpiece that one can not understand or analyze. And neither plan.

As you live a life you notice that you need less and less stuff…. As a result, you get freer and happier, after all. But then you learn that there are things … some random … in whose absence you can’t breathe freely, or maybe even…you can’t survive at all – even for a day, or for a minute. You get to know these things in Savissivik.

And then the sun comes up and everything gets illuminated. It often happens after midnight, when we are on the move – since sea is calmer at night.

Expedition Avannaa was not about speed. We travelled slow, maybe too slow for some, but then we got to notice all the smallest and nearest things – normally the invisible ones.

From Greenland “The Stolen Moments” came to Russia. Greenland Today describes how our shy and low key expedition continued its “cultural journey” in Moscow. But exactly this – building in the times of adversity cultural bridges between countries through music, art, theatre and exploration – was our most important mission.

Arthur Chilingarov, the Czar of Russian Arctic, Dimtry Shparo, one of the patriarch polar explorers, and others came to support the proud Inughuit who only two days later occupied the top floor of the Russian Senate as our mobile exhibit opened in the upper chamber of Russian Parliament.

And a day later Teresia from Qaanaaq met President Mikhail Gorbachev for the first time. She was a little bit shy. But only till the moment when together we saluted the proud people of Avannaa.

The Stolen Moments. In the weeks after the expedition the glorious people of Avannaa have been carried high by the Presidents, Senators, famous polar explorers and artists…

And finally – by the children of Uummannaq – in the night sky of New York, on the bank of the East River. Expedition Avannaa continues. Thank you, one and all!


Thank you to all those who continue to support my work and occasionally are crazy enough to jump into a frozen river to see if the whole thing is real!

© Copyright 2010 Galya Morrell. All rights reserved.

                 Made by Oni Lai