Today it is 200 years since Norway's constitution law was signed on the 17 May 1814. At the time it was considered to be one of the most liberal democratic constitutions and today it is the third oldest constitution law in the world. Every 17 of May, Norwegians mark this day with country wide celebrations considered very inclusive for all new nationalites. Norwegians raise their flags all day, march in parades led by brass bands and kids get to eat as many ice creams they like.
Norway is one of the richest countries in the world lucky enough to have no national dept; benefitting from rich oil resources which income is well spread around to each and every corner of the country. They also export tons of fish and are a leading shipping nation. A big chunk of Norway's spending money (National budget) is made from the interest earned from the money the country has saved up from from decades of oil export. The tiniest islands in Norway, with sometimes a handful of inhabitants in the most remote places, are connected to the mainland with amazing bridges and tunnels. If you want to have a future in engineering I suggest you head to Norway straight away. Most engineer students are likely to have a job waiting for them before their final exams.
In my opinion it is the general public that represents a nation best, so I chose to make a portrait of Norway by photographing 200 people. I also chose to do this over only two days - the two last days before the 200th anniversary. It might only be a slice of a cake, but you get a pretty good feeling of the flavour by eating a slice of it. I chose my hometown - Kløfta - because I wanted a place that is neither a city or a remote town. Kløfta with its 6500 residents is geographically near enough the capital Oslo to have a certain urban touch and not remote enough to be a place in the middle of nowhere. I feel the people here can relate as much to the city as to the country side. I asked everyone to tell me one word (but allowing a couple more words if needed) that comes to their mind when they think of Norway. More questions would be interesting, but there wouldn't be enough hours in two days to take that many notes when photographing 200 people. In general most of the 200 people thought it is a great country and a very inclusive nation.
I will let the photos do the talking and hope that the portraits will let you contemplate what it means to have freedom of speech, wealth and a choice to do more or less do what you want to do in life. Most of the world's citizens do not have that luxury and this is easy to forget when you are the fortunate one. Even though I do not live in Norway any longer, I am very proud of my country and want to congratulate it on the big day 17th of May! Happy birthday!
A big thank you to all the people I photographed! You made the project for me and I am very grateful!