Mountains of Sunnmøre

I Hjertet av Sunnmørsalpene
Jønshorn i Skumringstimen
Ystenesdalen II
Kvanndalen II

About this project

This project started out as a pure celebration of this mountain regions aesthetic beauty and timeless grandeur. These coastal mountains have been a landmark for the locals since the first homo sapiens settled in these areas around the time when the ice withdrew after the last ice age. They have also contributed to the peoples identity as can be heard in the local songs in which mountain peaks are mentioned by name, like an old friend. Some of our nations greatest poets and musicians have been inspired by this rugged mountain chain running along the West Coast of Norway.

Currently the alpine regions of Sunnmøre are threatened by the governments plans for a large new power line. It was after Statnetts announcement of their plans for a power line from Ørskog to Fardal that this collection of photographs took on another meaning in the form of a conservationist art project. 

I have chosen to present this body of work in black and white only. In my view the lack of color adds to the timeless aspects of these images, in the sense that they may evoke associations to the early work of pioneering landscape photographers. I also see more of a challenge in presenting beauty through B&W photography: If you take a otherwise mediocre scene or composition and add makeup in the form or striking, lovely color, the uncritical viewer may be seduced by this and overlook the fact that the photograph is lacking in other respects. In my view B&W also draws more attention to the pure geometry and shapes of the mountain, and also adds a touch of surrealism and mystique. Perhaps underlining the shortcomings of Statnetts plans even more than a collection of "postcard" imagery would have done.

If realized, Statnetts pylons will be 15 - 45 m tall, with a 40m wide "corridor" of nothingness running along the power lines stretching over a distance of 250 - 300 km. The line will cut through forest, span fjords and eliminate any illusion of being far from civilization while hiking in these alpine areas. The power line will probably constitute the biggest case of environmental crime ever to take place in western parts of Norway. 

The alternative solution, which have not been significantly investigated, would be to lay the power cables up along the coast in the seabed. A solution which the oil rich nation of Norway both has the know-how, experience and resources to realize. Such a solution will come at a higher financial cost, but at a significantly lower environmental cost. From the perspective of infinity, the financial cost will be minuscule compared to the environmental gains for generations to come.

I have been asked for illustrations of how these pylons will look when impaled in the landscape. My answer have been that my main focus is to communicate the beauty and grandeur of this part of Norway to as many as possible, without reducing my works to propaganda posters against Statnetts plans. However, a common thread that runs through all my photographs from this area is that one should be able to see the planned power line from my standpoint during image capture: Either by looking straight ahead or by taking a couple of steps in the direction of the 420kV trespasser. If some of the local or national conservationist organizations would like to borrow some of my color versions for illustration purposes, please send me a note or even better, call me. 

Unfortunately it seems as though endangered species or even better, land inhabited by humans, is the only stuff that can stand in the way of this power line. Untouched areas or "unique aesthetic attributes" simply does not compute with our people of power residing in a certain paper shuffling capital in the flatlands. Maybe we all should consider taking to the mountains claiming indigenous rights to the holy land of the Sunnmøre alpine regions? On a more serious note, untouched nature is becoming a scarce resource of ever increasing value, and it is important that the politicians of Oslo recognize the immense threat posed by this power line. Hopefully we will be able to make a difference and sway our elected representatives in the direction of the seabed cable- alternative.

Published September 13th 2010
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