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Over the weekend, the photographers chosen for the sixth edition of The Norwegian Journal of Photography met at the Preus Museum in Horten to go through their projects with their mentors and photographer Laia Abril.

For three full days, their focus was trained on images and projects. The weekend revolved around seeing their own work in a new light, questioning their intentions and the choices they have made, and presenting what they have done so far. The seven photographers will continue to work on their projects until this summer.

The Spanish photographer Laia Abril bore the main responsibility for providing guidance to the photographers during the three-day session. On Thursday, she presented her own projects to an audience at Fritt Ord’s premises in Oslo, before she and the NJP photographers moved on to Horten for the workshop.

Lengthy preparations

“I work with a combination of photography, text and preparatory studies. This means that I take photos at the very end of my projects. I make lengthy preparations and perform research. I put a great deal of thought into how I should visualise it all”, explained Laia Abril during her talk in Oslo on Thursday.

She presented a formidable work entitled ‘A History of Misogyny’, a series that ultimately resulted in three books that document and interpret society’s view of women, women’s rights and, not least, the culture of violence to which women continue to be exposed.

In her book ‘On Rape’, volume two in the series, she does not show the women who are exposed to abuse.

“Instead of focussing on the victims, I switched the focal point to where we have failed as a society. Where the media, the legislation, the police and the authorities have failed. If I were to photograph the rape victims, pressure would have been brought to bear on them, but I want to transfer the pressure to the system”, the photographer said at the seminar on Thursday.

During the workshop in Horten, Laia delved deeply into each individual NJP project, studying the photographers’ ideas and choices. She also helped them find new ways of looking at their material. Considerable emphasis was placed on the use of text in the projects, and on the road ahead in the run-up to their June deadline.

Each photographer was given 90 minutes to review their series with Abril and mentors Rune Eraker and Laara Matsen. During that session, they explained their motives and desires, and they tried to do some editing.

The End of the World

Photographer Giulia Mangione tries to visualise and narrate a story about how people who fear the end of the world prepare themselves and deal with their fear.

“I took a long road trip in the US, five weeks in September/October. I wanted to understand people who fear the future and who prepare for the end of the world”, Giulia explained in her presentation at the Preus Museum.

One of the places she visited was the largest survival community in the world, which is located in South Dakota.

“They have taken over a number of bomb shelters and bunkers built during the cold war. I wanted to meet the people there with an open mind in order to understand them. I also spent time interviewing several others I met along the way”, she added.

Parts of her trip through the US were planned in advance, so the photographer had appointments to keep. The rest of trip involved taking photos of whatever she came across, completely spontaneously.

Giulia also wants to use some text in her project.

“I am thinking about using interviews with the people I encountered, as well as excerpts from my travel journals to help provide subjective reflections about what I saw and felt along the way”, she continued.


Lars Martin Hunstad’s project is entitled Paradise and deals with northern Norway, a region that offers stark contrasts.

“I was born in northern Norway, and now I am exploring the region. I talk to tourists, newcomers and locals to get an idea of how they experience the north. How do these groups interact with other people, including myself?, Hunstad asked during his project presentation.

Among other things, he has shadowed members of his own family, taking photos of moments, events and landscapes with a curious eye. He has also spent considerable time in a variety of areas to explore unusual moments, the landscapes and everyday life.

“Postcards from the north romanticise the region. I want to challenge this way of looking at the north. I have been searching for contrasts. This is my own, personal way of exploring the region”, he recounted.

When pappa becomes a woman

Photographer Jo Straube has been in close proximity to some of his relatives. Since 2016, he has followed the life of a man, then named Kjetil, through the process of transitioning into a woman.

“Back then, when Kjetil met his sweetheart, he was very open with her about identifying as a woman, something he had done since the age of 15. In 2017, he embarked on an experimental year as a woman, a requirement for going forward with the transition”, Jo said at the Preus Museum.

Now Kjetil has transitioned into Katia. She is still married, has children and works as a researcher.

“This project addresses several issues. For example, how it feels when someone’s pappa becomes a woman. I shadowed her and the family during consultations with physicians, hormone treatments and their everyday lives. Although Katia is a woman, she often undertakes classic pappa-roles, like driving the car on holiday trips, piloting the boat, cooking on the grill and taking care of practical things”, Jo continues.

The consumption of clothing

Over the past 18 months, photographer Matthis Kleeb has focussed on documenting the consequences of the fashion industry and how western consumption has consequences for countries in the South.

The project has been named From Trend to Trash.

“Each year, every single Norwegian throws away an average of 23.5 kg of clothes. About 97 per cent of the used clothes are exported, often ending up in countries like Ghana or Kenya”, Matthis said during his presentation.

Generally speaking, the project is divided into three parts: the production of clothes in countries like Bangladesh, consumption in the West (Norway) and finally, the final destinations of the used clothes. Following his presentation at the Preus Museum in Horten, Matthis’ project will move in a slightly different direction. He will focus on his report from Kenya, in addition to capturing more conceptual images from Norway.

“I visited Kenya, where I met people who work on the gigantic mountains of garbage, picking out clothes. I visited the markets, where they get used clothes from Europe and other places. The locals sew, colour and repair the clothes before selling them again”, he explained.

Flowers, trees and people

While Matthis has travelled the world, photographer Erle Kyllingmark has stayed much closer to home.

“My project has changed somewhat since its inception. It deals with diversity, and the importance of diversity not only in nature, but also among people. In a way, I have rediscovered Arne Næss and his philosophy. Some of his writings will be important in my project”, Erle mentioned during her presentation.

She works in analogue format, photographing flowers, trees, and portraits of people. Erle uses the same exposure on all three elements, giving the photos three layers: One layer of trees, one layer of flowers and one layer of portraits.

“Every picture will probably be named for the flower, tree and person I have photographed”, she observed. Thus far, she has photographed 32 trees and 26 flowers. Now, she is working to complete all the portraits.

On a quest for grandfather

A project about photographer Simen R. Ulvestad and Simen’s grandfather, who he did not know and barely ever met. This has been the photographer’s focal point over the past year.

“I met him when I was two years old. Then I met him again when I was 25. Shortly before he died. This is a story about my alcoholic grandfather and my quest to find him”, said Simen during the weekend workshop.

Simen grew up just a 15-minute drive from his grandfather, but only met him once as a child, when he was two years old. His grandfather had no contact with the rest of his family at all. Then Simen contacted him and met him once as an adult.

“The first thing grandfather said when he opened the door was: “You’re a hell of a big guy”. The last thing he said when I left him was: “I travelled a lot and I dated a lot.”

Simen has set out on a quest to learn more about his grandfather. The pictures he takes are direct documentation as well as metaphoric photographs. He himself is part of the story.

“I inherited a suitcase from grandfather after he passed. It contained rolls of film. He was an enthusiastic amateur photographer and a sailor, and he had many lovers. The suitcase contained his journal, a camera and a video cassette marked ‘Do not watch’. So now I have also taken photos of many of the things he left behind, along with some of his clothes”, said Simen.

He is trying to figure out his own ties to his grandfather. Among other things, he discovered that his favourite fishing spot was also his grandfather’s preferred spot.

“I knew nothing about him, other than that he was an alcoholic and was not part of the family anymore. During this process, I have learned more about him”, Simen continued.

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