ONE DAY IN HISTORY (2011 - 2012)

Combining photographic portraits and testimony, One Day in History concerns the experiences and thoughts of 43 young people who survived the terror attack at the Labor Party youth camp on Utøya Island, outside Oslo on 22 July 2011. Published the year after the events, the project captures a moment in time in which the memories of what happened were still very raw.

I bear my scares with dignity, because I got them standing for something I believe in. I got them standing up for Norway. I choose to go through life with this attitude, and this is what keeps me going.

Ylva (15) hid by a path on the island translated «The love path». She was shot in the shoulder, her stomach and in both of her thighs.

I remember looking up at the ten doctors who were standing around my hospital bed, along with my mom, dad and brother. They were all very serious when they told me they had to amputate my arm. Personally, I wasn’t fazed by the news at all. It felt as if I was looking at the situation from the outside. I had already seen my arm hanging there —useless from the immense injuries —I simply accepted that it had to be removed. Now I get help whenever I need it, but I can do almost everything myself. The feeling of defeat is gone. I’ve gotten used to the thought of living with just one arm. 

Cecilie (17) hid at the south end of the island with her best friend Andrine. Cecilie was shot in her arm, her shoulder and chin. The last bullet was stopped by her wisdom tooth, which most likely saved her life. Andrine died. Cecilie had to amputate her arm.

At first I put a lid on everything that had happened. It all felt unreal, like a foggy nightmare. I kept dissociating for a while and I felt pretty good. But every now and then, in the middle of the night, the fog would lift and I’d be right there in the water – all the smells and images would come clearly back to me.

Iselin (15) was hiding behind a rock by the Pump house. She moved to a rock shelf and was later rescued by a boat. 

There is this one dream I remember really clearly – the only dream I’ve had since the 22nd of July: I’m surrounded by a bright light, and suddenly my best friend Andreas appears. We greet each other the way we always do, with a high five and solid pat on the back. I ask him, “how’s it going up there?”. He, who’s always been really hyper, answers calmly “It’s all good, I’m just resting.”

Marius (18) was hiding on a rock shelf. His best friend Andreas fell down and died during his attempt to climb down and reach him.

This was the first time me and my friend Tamta traveled outside of Georgia. We’d been dreaming of Scandinavia for ages. We were interested in socialism and fascinated by the Scandinavian model. It was kind of like a dream come true. 

Natia (23) from Kutaisi, Georgia lost her best friend at Utøya. She later moved to Oslo to be a part of the national healing process.

Fall turned into winter. As my injuries were healing, my psychological state was declining. At first it felt as if nothing had happened. I had been to Utøya, came back injured and had to stay home from school. I existed in a bubble. The first time I really cried was in the beginning of December. I was sad and completely exhausted, yet my body gave me no signs that it needed sleep. I would sit up all night looking at pictures, reading newspapers and blogs. I listened to music that reminded me of Utøya and the ones who died. Even the football chant «All for Norway» would make me cry.

Eirin Kristin (20) hid in a cave with several others. Lying furthest out, she was shot in her stomach, arm, right knee and right armpit.

In the course of one horrible hour, my summer-paradise transformed into hell on earth. Now the battle against the forces and ideologies behind the attacks is what occupies me. May our collective reaction – the unconditional sense of solidarity, opposite the total ostracism of one man – have misled us to believe that he was never one of us?

Eivind (23) took charge of a group of 11 youths. Attempting to escape in the rowing boat «Reiulf», they were shot at 200 meters from shore. Non of them were hurt.

On the 22nd of July my Facebook wall was filled with birthday greetings. The last one was sent at 5.10pm and said, “Happy Birthday Kjetil. What a birthday you got...”

I was born on the 22nd of July 1995. He coincidentally chose that day, but I don’t feel resentful about that. It’s still my day – the difference is that now it’s also our day – Norway’s day.  An important day in history.  

Kjetil (16) hid under a tree by, before he finally ran down to shore and was rescued by the special forces.

I would have loved to be able to say that my life has somehow gained a new dimension or some sort of deeper meaning after this. But I’m not sure. Nothing is how it used to be. My body has drastically changed. My best friend is gone. Many other friends are gone too. What happened is unfathomable and should never have happened. I don’t understand it. All I want is to live a normal life, but it’s hard when everything around me has changed. 

Hanne (20) was shot in her left arm, left pinky finger and in the neck. After four and a half months, she was released from the hospital.

It happened on a pretty regular day. I was sitting on a bench, waiting for the bus while drinking coffee and watching the my breath looking like smoke in the cold. It was the first day with frost on the ground. On the bench next to me sat an old woman. Staring emptily at her surroundings, I had no idea what she was thinking. We never exchanged a word. Then the buss arrived and I rode it all the way to the university. It was a beautiful day and I was smiling to myself while looking at the colorful fall leaves. Then the thought hit me; in the same way that I have no idea who that old woman was, she has no idea who I am. It made me really happy. In the days to come I could just be a person in this world. Still with Utøya as a part of me, but it’s far from all.

By the way, it was not a normal day. It was three and a half months after the day when I almost died. After I was shot five times at Utøya, no day has felt normal. What’s a normal day anyways?

Ina (21) hid behind a piano in the café building. She was shot five times; in her hands, jaw and chest. Seven adolescents carried her into the woods. They put rocks on the gunshot wounds to stop the bleeding, and laid close to her to keep her warm. Ina and the rest stayed in their hiding place for 1 1/2  hour until the perpetrator was captured and they were rescued by a boat.

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