Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall
Anchell Scholarship for Documentary Photography
There is an empty lot in Oslo where junkies go to shoot heroin when the weather’s warm and the injection room is full. The ground is littered with used needles and love letters scribbled on the back of prescriptions, children’s wax crayons and handwritten guitar cords, alcohol swabs and burnt aluminium foil and paperback novels. But if you wait there long enough, if you look carefully enough, you’ll find more.
When I was there in October 2015, I found lipsticked kisses on white walls, and poems about Van Gogh, and methamphetamine, and plastic skeletons holding crucifixes.
I found a set of acrylic nails in a jar, and a mangy dog, and a text message on a burner mobile from ‘Cleopatra’.
I found Espen, who makes you call him King Cobra until you realise he’s a softie.
I found Willy, who found Jesus in 1983, and is since roaming the streets and distributing calling cards from the church and hot drinks.
I found Linn, who is a photographer and wears a massive wreath of flowers wherever she goes because it gives a different reason for people to stop and stare as she walks by.
I found Tony and Ingvild, who owned a fortune and an empire of Swedish nightclubs, once upon a time.
I found Sascha, a doctor, who is the last Chechen giant left in Oslo, the only one who could be tamed of his violent ways in the ten years following the war.
I found Magnus, who plays music when he isn’t building computers or scanning air traffic on his phone.
du er trygg i natt
drøm søtt, ikke farlig, bare stort og svart
I found Morten, who stands with his teeth in his hands and says through his gums -- you won’t find a single ‘narcoman’ who doesn’t wish their life was different, but no one you ask will ever tell you they regret it.
Only about a quarter of those who try heroin become physically dependent on it, but many of those who don’t, still keep coming back until they are.
I ask myself why taking these photographs are so important. Are we running away from life, or towards the light? Does it matter? We will keep coming back to what destroys us, as do all mortal creatures under heaven.
And now the light is all we see.
Life will never be enough anymore.