Summer 2010 / Winter 2012
archival pigment prints, diptychs
16 x 20 inches each, edition of 10
37 x 45 inches each, edition of 3
These recent pictures depict seasonal hunting cabins built by the native Iñupiat inhabitants of Barrow, Alaska. The cabins are situated at the Northern most stretch of the United States, along the shores of the Chukchi Sea, part of the larger Arctic Ocean. Iñupiat families travel from Barrow to the cabins to hunt for waterfowl in the summer and seals in the winter.
The Barrow hunting cabins images are an extension of my continued interest in cultural and environmental modes of improvisation. Each cabin has been fashioned out of whatever makeshift materials are on hand, from weathered plywood to old shipping pallets collected from the nearby-decommissioned Navy Base. Children’s swings are rigged from two by fours and plastic milk boxes, while old school chairs and car seats serve as patio furniture. Scraps of carpet and particleboard become footpaths across the loose ocean gravel and spongy permafrost tundra. I have photographed the cabins in the midnight and early morning hours of the Arctic summer when the sun hangs almost perpetually at the horizon. The hunters are gone, their cabins and the hunting grounds empty.
– Eirik Johnson