Conquering these cutoff islands with Kirstin Vang
Nestled in a pocket of the North Atlantic and caught between Scotland, Iceland, and Norway sits 18 minuscule masses of land that collectively make up the archipelago of the Faroe Islands. “Bare, naked, and rough” is how Kirstin Vang describes the landscape, a part of the world now defined by the storms and blustery winds that frequently batter the land.
Mountains, high cliffs, a coastline with sea stacks, and gorges as far as the eye can see outline most corners of the islands. For those who have grown up here, wild trees would be considered alien. This only becomes surprising after you travel and return, noticing how other countries are prosperously evergreen. The combination of a rough climate and twice as many sheep as people means it is simply impossible for anything to grow here.
Vang recalls the landscape covered by a wintry white sheet of snow during the colder months but in the past few years, this tendency has been reserved. The climate of these remote northern islands is changing. For the past five years, the Faroe Islands have also endured a 10 percent annual surge in tourist numbers. Almost inaccessible for centuries, these islands were roamed by natives and a niche community of adventurers. But a new coterie of vernacular Faroese documentors have been capturing the scenery that inspired their childhoods.
Intrinsic to her youth, Vang’s imagery is shaped by her respect for nature. She tells us she would “never manipulate a mountain higher than it is.” Capturing nature in a simple and minimalistic aesthetic to show its form, occasionally even using abstract methods she details. She tends to appreciate photography most when there aren't too many disturbing elements in the frame, which is why she finds it “difficult to take photos in cities with a lot of things happening or landscapes with many trees and other details.”
Using her work as a homage to the barren, often desolate islands that shaped her, we asked Vang to guide us through the monumental locations that epitomize these islands through her gaze.
“The waterfall in Gásadalur is easily reachable and incredibly special! There aren’t many waterfalls in the world falling straight down to the ocean. The high mountains surrounding the place are fantastic and the fact that there wasn’t any tunnel until 2006 and people had to hike over the mountain to get to and from the village is just fascinating."
“Trælanípa, Vágar. This place lets you feel in your own body, how rough nature is. You can hike up to these high cliffs, that go straight down to the ocean, and look down. It’s not the highest cliffs we have, but it still lets you feel small in this world.”
“Gjógv, Eysturoy and Gásadalur, Vágar. These charming villages combine the Faroese lifestyle with beautiful nature. Gásadalur with its picturesque location under a high mountain and over a high cliff with a waterfall running straight down to the ocean. And Gjógv with its cute colorful houses laying by the stunning gorge (from where the village has its name).”
“Klakkur, Borðoy. It gives you a view of the islands and gives you the sense that there are many of them. The place is perfect for watching the sunset (if you’re lucky, there might even be a clear sky).”
“Lighthouse at Kalsoy. The lighthouse at Kalsoy must be one of the most spectacular places on the Faroes.”
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