While working on Qivittoq, I was fortunate enough to get in touch with the photographer Allard Willemse, who has been taking Jessie’s pictures on the floor for more than a decade. The photographs below are among the very best he has taken. The Black-and-whites date from 1999. The last photograph, on which Jessie poses in front of the draped curtain, is from 2010.
Undoubtedly, Jessie Kleemann works with the meaning and significance of the culture from which she herself stems. She does this in a playful and curiosity-driven manner. In her performances, she does not shy away from utilizing traditional Greenlandic elements in new ways. Many, especially in Greenland, perceive this as provocative. The ancient Greenlandic culture is sacred. Many Greenlanders think. But not Jessie Kleemann.
Orsoq means ‘blubber’. The seal’s blubber was the foremost source of energy in Greenland’s past. It was used as fuel for the train-oil lamps, and it was consumed.
Over the course of time, Jessie Kleemann has used orsoq in different ways in her work. Orsoq smells. It turns into a liquid when it is heated. In short, it is a mess. A lot of people think. However, that’s how it is with authenticity and culture. It’s a mess.