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Fred Ivar Klemetsen has worked as a photojournalist at Bergens Tidende for nearly 30 years.

“Established, but just as hungry as when I was young. As hungry to tell stories. Small stories or big ones. It does not matter what the story is, as long as it is important enough to me”, writes Klemetsen in his project description

“I remember when I was just a lad and saw photojournalist and photo artist Kåre Kivijärvi’s photographic portrayal of the Laestadians. My friend and I laughed a bit, remarking that it looked very much like our own meeting house.”

While children played outside the meeting house, Klemetsen and the others sat inside, listening to a long sermon about the nature of sin. There was no TV, not much ornamentation and no Christmas tree. Music and dance were sinful. Cinemas and card games were the work of the devil. His sisters were not allowed to wear make-up when they were young, and Fred Ivar’s mother covered her hair when in the meeting house.

“At primary school, the teacher wanted us to sing a love song written by Norwegian folk singer Halvdan Sivertsen, but when we got to the part about: ‘…four cold beers…’, there was quite a commotion. That was inevitable because there were many Laestadian children in the class”, writes Klemetsen.

He grew up in a liberal Laestadian home, and he never experienced any unpleasantness while growing up. All the same, many memories were etched into his childhood mind. Many of the questions still remain. It is estimated that there are 40 – 50 000 Laestadians in Norway. The majority are found in Nord-Troms County and in Finnmark County. Fred Ivar would like to use his camera as a tool to find out more about the community in which he grew up, and to which his parents still belong. He wants to make a personal photo documentary about the faith of his own childhood.

Foto: Fred Ivar Klemetsen

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Foto: Fred Ivar Klemetsen

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