Preliminary studies in KGH's photo-archive (Royal Greenland Trading Company)

This image-series, under the title of "Preliminary studies in KGH's photo archive (Royal Greenland Trading Company), is placed by KNI A/S in Sisimiut Museums disposition. The preliminary studies give little insight to an extensive photo-history of the Royal Greenland Trading Company's activities in Greenland and Copenhagen, Denmark. All images are courtesy of KNI A/S for whome Karl Elias Olsen digitally reproduced the original material, depositet at Greenland National Museum and Archives (NKA). The entire collection counts approx. 10.000 negatives. 353 of these are re-mediated in Greenland National Database. The aim is to publish the complete number of 10.000 images in this database.

Few important data in danish-greenlandic trading history

1261 The norwegian king acquires a royal privilidge on trading monopoly and call regularly at port in Greenland.
1720-1774 Trading monopoly on Greenland is passed over to Bergen Trading Company (Bergenkompagniet), later to Jacob Severins Company and "The Almindelige Handelskompagni" - The General Trading Company - which ends up in bankruptcy.
1774 The Royal Greenland Trading Company (Den Kongelige Grønlandske Handel - KGH) is established.
1790 KGH purchase own trading-fleet. Trading is no longer subordinated to the church.
1807-1814 1807-1814 Denmark-Norway is on France's side in the Napolenic Wars. Denmark has to give up Norway to Sweden, but keeps Greenland.
1830'erne Private trading companies demand a share in trade with Greenland. Few get
permission, among others danish traders Kall and Dahlén, 1833 and 1841 at the fishing stations at Napassoq. This station was later closed down.
1912 Administration of colonies is taken away from KGH and placed under the authority of Grønlands Styrelse (Administration of Greenland).
1950 the so-called "Nyordningen" - A White Paper which suggested that Greenland's administration be replaced by a national council known as the Landsråd. The Royal Greenlandic Trading Company's monopoly is partly abolished.
1986 Greenland Homerule takes over KGH and carries on under the the name "Kalaallit Niuerfiat".
1992 Kalaallit Niuerfiat transformed into KNI A/S plus Pilersuisoq and Pisiffik. The share capital is owned by Greenland Homerule
2002 Pisiffik transformed from public sector into private ownership

"Preliminary studies in KGH's photo-archive" give insight in Greenlands history portraited in photographs and described by keywords. The idea undelying the publication is to establish a new form of narrative. A narrative in new media; among other using the Greenland National Image Database. An interactive story, created by all of us by exchanging knowledge. The "National" in the database titel "Greenland National Image Database", refers solely to access. Acces to past and present narratives, access for everyone disregarding gender, nationality or the distance from the capital city. In this sence the "National" becomes a joint Visual Knowledge Centre On-Line.

Among many characteristics of photography is that it is capable of breaking time and composing a theme. As soon as motives lays firm on a negative, visual impressions separate from reality. Eye-witness', professional's and common people's acounts disapear. New media, such as database and Internet are capable of restoring narratives back to life. People supply contents, technology tools so the original material is spared and the story told in joint-venture to the wide public. KGH's material comprise many information and reveals in this sence many possibilities. Photographs from the KGH archive are not only attractive to publishers but can also be applied in educational purposes. One of digital media's characteristics is the capability to remediate different types of material into various forms and contexts. The publication of digital photo-archives can be undertaken with different aims; for exhibition purposes, for inspection as photo-album or theme-based websites constructed and narrated by Inuit pupils and students.



An obvious task for remediation to digital
The first KGH images from Greenland National Museum and Archives in digital form are images brought to you in this image database. The actual image is only a digital photograph as a form of the original negative. These images fit as a good example to what could be undertaken and obtained by high-standard scanning and registry of all KGH material. Digital image produced directly by photographing a negative has few informations compared to a professionaly scanned material. Therefore the present form is not useful for exhibiting nor publishing in acceptable quality. By scanning the material in high resolution with top equipment available today, it would be possible to not only satisfy the demand for using the images commercially but most important, save the original material from further use. The scanning process gives one an opportunity to work-through the entire collection alone, eventually take care of preservation matters, and even add relevant information to a single capture.

This image series has been published in the mode as received on a CD-Rom by Sisimiut Museum.
Only have we replaced colour information on black&white negatives, so that the digital photograph relates as close as possible to the original. We have counsciously not cut the edges of all images because it is our opinion in this context best to leave them as they are - preliminary studies. All images in this series: originator and copyright KNI A/S.


Further reading:

Arke, Pia (2003). Scoresbysundhistorier: fotografier, kolonisering og kortlægning. Borgen, København.
Bro, Henning (1991). Dansk privatkapital og KGH's monopol i Grønland omkring 1900-1907. In: Tidsskriftet Grønland, nr. 8. Det grønlandske Selskab, København.
Fabian, Johannes (2002). Virtual Archives and Ethnographic Writing. In. Current Anthropology, vol. 43, nb. 5. University of Chicago Press.
Grønlandske Handel
(1974). KGH 200 års jubilæum. Den Kongelige Grønlandske Handel. København.
Hansen, Klaus Georg (1992). De kalder os eskimoer. Aarhus Universitet.
King, J.C.H. & Lidchi, Henrietta eds. (1998). Imaging the Arctic. University of Washington Press, Seattle.
Lidegaard, Mads
(1974). KGH 200 år. In: Tidsskriftet Grønland, nr. 4. Det grønlandske Selskab, København.
Manovich, Lev (2001). The Language of New Media. Cambridge, The MIT Press.
Petersen, Klaus (1996). Rapport om Rigsarkivets Grønlandssamlinger - med specielt henblik på KGH og Grønlands Styrelse. Grønlands Arkiv, København.
Sørensen, Axel Kjær (1983). Danmark-Grønland i det 20. århundrede. København.

Web: SIULLEQ/DR/Arktisk Institut


Sisimiut Museum, December the 15th. 2003