Business as Usual – but not Forgetting

On the road again, this time to Alta way up in northern Norway. I have been finishing up the story Øystein Mikalsen and I are doing for Dagbladet Magasinet about what Norwegians think about their country, an assignment I wrote about some time ago in the post Touring Norway. Especially after the massacres previous Friday in and around Oslo, which certainly have changed the perspective for many Norwegians, the story has taken a special twist. The virginity has been taken away from the country – at least an expression many papers use when commenting the tragic event, and actually an expression I personally find a bit tacky and imprudent. Nevertheless the country is in mourning after the unfathomable death tolls which presently have risen to 95 – the largest in Norway since the Second World War. Even touring Alta I encountered the aftermath of the tragedy. I met with a young woman who had lost a good and close friend during the shooting on Utøya, the island outside of Oslo. Like most Norwegians she cannot comprehend the violent actions that took place only three days ago. And in a little community like Alta, it’s a shock for everybody. Everybody knows everybody and the whole district was mourning its loss. In the town square people regularly came by and lit a candle or left flowers at a locally well-known sculpture, for the time turned into a small outdoor temple.

But life continues also after tragic events like this. Just 10 yards away from the sculpture turned temple, offroad bikers arrived at the finishing line and were applauded and congratulated by the spectators after a 300 kilometres long offroad competition, called the ultimate MTB adventure race. They had been biking for 25 hours and more. Life goes on – and it must. Especially after a devastating event as the one last Friday. If we don’t, then the terrorist(s) have won their loathing game. We must commence as usual, no matter how wounded we feel and how heartbroken we are. Even personally for me it was harder than usual to encounter and photograph people I met. It’s always a wrestle, but now more than ever. Usually it’s about wrestling my own fears and uncertainties, artistically speaking, but now also with a deep sorrow in my heart.

Life goes on.