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Catherine Lemblé

Only Barely Still

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The Arctic has never been considered a suitable place for women. Throughout history, women have been considered unfit to deal with the challenges of living autonomously in public, let alone the dangers of the isolated wilderness. Non-native inhabitants of the Arctic have long viewed the polar region as a barren, inhospitable landscape where only the toughest men could survive. The systematic rejection of women in the Arctic world is part of this affirmation of the adventurous and technical nature of men. This mindset is also reflected in the stories and literature set in the circumpolar region: Women are mostly absent, and when they do appear, they are categorised as inferior companions to men, exceptions, or simply not quite right in the head. However, the Arctic is traditionally seen as feminine in the western world. It was originally seen as a region to be conquered and penetrated; a male territory to be subjugated. While this view has changed in the post-colonial era, the Arctic is still seen as feminine and collectively imagined as a pure, untouched place in need of our protection. A barren, virgin land in distress. This one-sided and simplistic view does not correspond to reality, as it imposes a passive identity as an object of desire. The Only Barely Still project aims to propose a different narrative of the Arctic and its collective imaginary. By standing on the axis of two misconceptions – about the Arctic on the one hand and the women in it on the other – it aims to respectfully capture their synergy.


Catherine Lemblé (born 1990, Aalst) is a photographer based in Brussels. She obtained her master’s degree in photography at the Luca School of Arts in Brussels. Her work is characterised by the ever-changing relationship between man and nature. Her first book Cabin Fever was self-published in 2019.