“Máze”: Céline Clanet Documents a Sámi Village in the Norwegian Lapland

Since 2005, French photographer Céline Clanet has been frequenting the European Arctic continental territory—known as “Lapland”—and capturing the lives of the local Sámi people. She has regularly travelled to Máze, a small village located at the highest point of the European map, far above the Arctic Circle, in the Norwegian Lapland. Her excellent Máze series—available as a book from Photolucida—has been awarded with several prizes in Europe and USA, including the Critical Mass Book Award (USA).

Máze” features frigid exteriors and candle-lit interiors, trailers, tents, reindeer and dogs. The images fill the viewer with a sense of wonder, given the magnificence of the landscape, and also with a touch of sadness, given the harshness of the environment. A great tension is evident here: between a passionate desire to hold onto the traditions of the past and a certain openness to absorb the technologies of the modern world.

Máze: Photography by Céline Clanet (2008, Photolucida)

Céline writes on her experience: “There, I met quiet people, sometimes melancholic, captivating, who are very proud of their village and territory. They often have binoculars at hand, even in their homes, to gaze at these beautiful landscapes. I have photographed Sámi people, houses, land and reindeer that were almost not here today. They barely escaped being flooded by the waters of a hydroelectric dam project that the Norwegian government planned in the early 1970s and thanks to Sámi people’s protests and resistance was fortunately aborted. But I have also photographed a reality that will undoubtedly transform in the coming century, due to global warming and cultural integration. To me, Máze is an ambivalent symbol of resistance and helplessness.


“Simon Ailo watching his herd” from the “Máze” series


“Pride as well as suspicion, solitude and great beauty prevail there. In the most beautiful tundra of the Arctic region, I tasted Ante’s and Ole Ailo’s favorite season, when days get longer and temperatures become milder. The perfect moment, when time doesn’t exist anymore and night is gone, when Sámi people immerse themselves in their favorite activities: fishing through ice holes in Lake Suolojávri and riding the snøskuter in the tundra. And all these hours spent with friends, family, outside on a reindeer skin, in a hytte [a wooden cabin] or under a lávvu [a tipi-like Sami tent, mostly used by reindeer herders during migrations], talking, joiking [joik is the ancient and traditional form of Sámi songs], or lying down doing nothing, saying nothing. Just being.”

Born in 1977 in Chambéry, Céline Clanet was raised in the French Alps. She is a graduate of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de la PhotographiePublished and exhibited in Europe and abroad, her photographic work is part of the Société Française de Photographie (France), the Archives Départementales de Savoie (France), the Portland Art Museum (USA) collections, as well as several private collections.

Céline has published 5 books. Apart from “Máze”“Accès Réservé” (ARDI/DRAC Normandie, France, 2017), “Chapieux, Géographie d’un secret” (Actes Sud, France, 2014), “Des Barrages et des Hommes en Savoie” (Actes Sud, France, 2011) and “Un Mince Vernis de Réalité” (Filigranes, France, 2005).

She is currently working on another book, about the Russian Lapland, “Kola”, to be published in 2018.

Links: Website (www.celineclanet.com) | Instagram (www.instagram.com/celineclanet) | Facebook (www.facebook.com/celineclanet)

Images used with permission.


“Exhausting migration” from the “Máze” series


“Ellen watching through the window” from the “Máze” series


“Ole Ailo sleeping on reindeer skin” from the “Máze” series


“Simon Ailo” from the “Máze” series


“Gathering” from the “Máze” series


“Watching the fire” from the “Máze” series


“Linn, Marita and the dog” from the “Máze” series


“Marit” from the “Máze” series


“Jon’s Herd” from the “M‡ze” series


“Relaxing in the trailer” from the “Máze” series


“Suolojávri Hytte”, from the “Máze” series


“Mikkal Johan” from the “Máze” series


“Damned Alta dam” from the “Máze” series


“Everybody’s Gohati” from the “Máze” series


“Looking for the lost reindeer” from the “Máze” series