Føroyar is a series about life in remote and sparsely populated villages on the Faroe Islands, a cluster of 18 islands in the middle of the North Atlantic, halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The roughly 540-square-mile archipelago is home to about 50,000 people. Called Føroyar in Faroese language, the self-governed country is a part of the Kingdom of Denmark.
Immersing myself within the community, I couch-surfed and hitch-hiked my way across the islands, finding doors opening to me everywhere I went. Here, across swathes of snow-veiled landscapes and bordered by dramatic coastline, villages are slowly dropping into decline as more and more of their inhabitants are emigrating from the island in pursuit of greater opportunities.
Though at times lonely and perpetually freezing, I learned to appreciate the small, simple comforts of life – listening to stories told in the welcoming warmth of Faroese homes, the sound of songs against the roaring backdrop of the sea, and my memorable encounter with a message-in-a-bottle collector on the beach.
The villages on the smallest and toughest islands have seen a sharp decline in population over time. In a lot of villages, half of the houses stand empty. The Faroese are constantly moving away from the smallest villages, settling in the bigger, main villages. Young Faroese people move abroad – mainly to Denmark, to travel or to pursue a higher education – and most of them don’t return to their hometown afterwards.
In these clear and pristine landscapes, where villages with populations as low as ten huddle together on the edge of cliffs, I reveal a community hanging on firmly to their roots and coloured houses, while underlining that one day these villages must inevitably disappear. The villages will continue to decline in population. Like a grandfather you know won’t be with you forever, my primary intent was to document the villages and the people who inhabit them before they slip into the past and become history.
Kevin Faingnaert lives and works in Ghent, Belgium. He has a degree in Sociology and pursued his dream in becoming a photographer afterwards. He considers himself a social documentary photographer, mainly focusing on small groups and communities that are removed from mainstream culture. In April 2016 he finished Føroyar, a series about life on remote and sparsely populated villages on the Faroe Islands, which has been published as a book by Another Place Press. In July 2016 he concluded his series Catch, about the world of professional wrestling in Europe, which was on show at the Circulations 2017 photo festival in Paris, France. In 2017 Kevin received first prize in the ZEISS Photography Awards. He has also been selected to participate in the prestigious Joop Swart Masterclass in November 2017. His work has been published in WIRED, VICE, National Geographic, La Repubblica, Die Zeite, Outside Magazine and many others.Visit Website
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