Life on the Line

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Life on the Line began as a project by Cambridge-based photographer Cristian Barnett. Over a number of years he made 13 journeys to the Arctic Circle, an invisible line of latitude 66 degrees and 33 minutes north of the Equator. The line intersects eight countries and is home to a rich diversity of peoples for whom the sun never sets in high summer, nor rises in deepest winter.

All the photographs were taken on film within 35 miles of the Arctic Circle. Life on the Line celebrates the variety of existence in the circumpolar Arctic, in the face of overwhelming environmental and cultural change. This is not a book about history, either of the North or photography. The journey of these photographs is through the modernity of life as it is lived along the Arctic Circle.

Much is startling to those who live in the south, since for us it as an extreme world that we see here. But much is familiar. Everywhere people live with what the modern world has to offer, even if at times, and for profound reasons, they prefer or need to step into territories, of landscape, culture or the human imagination, that is outside and beyond modernity.

As we look at these northern people looking out at us, we see both a welcome and fascination. This is the power and authority of these images, the remarkable achievement of a remarkable photographer.

— Hugh Brody