Focus on Norway: Helge Skodvin: Do They Know It’s Christmas
In the spirit of the Christmas season, I was delighted to discover the wonderfully tongue-in-cheek photographic world of Helge Skodvin, a Norwegian photographer who annually poses as Santa Skodvin. One of his missions is to drum up contributors around Bergen, Norway for his print raffle whereby he donates one of his images to the lucky winner. My initial look at his website left me with the nagging suspicion that I was about to engage with a not-so-subtle comedian, but I was not convinced until I scrolled through his Facebook entries and roared with laughter and delight. My absolute conviction came when I received the following droll biographical summary and project statement for his project, “They Do Know It’s Christmas”.
Helge Skodvin, is a photographer and all-around gentleman resident of Bergen, Norway. He is trained as a carpenter, but since he laid down his hammer and worked on a BA in Photography in London, he has been working freelance for major newspapers, magazines and publishing houses. Skodvin has also been nominated for Leica Oskar Barnack Award and the Magnum Photography Award.
He has produced three photo books, and more are on the way. He is represented by INSTITUTE artist. Every year at the start of December he turns into Santa Skodvin. @hskodvin
They Do Know It’s Christmas
In November 2013 our trusted car broke down. We needed a new car, and that right away. I flew to Oslo, met a man, signed some papers, got a key and a car. Then I started on the long 10-hour drive back to Bergen. Outside a grocery store I noticed an inflatable Santa lying horizontally. I stopped and made some images. In the weeks leading up to Christmas I made some more images. And the next year. And the year after. For seven years I have been photographing Christmas. In shopping malls and car sales room. At offices and industrial estates. At schools and municipal government buildings. I saw a theme that is dominating our visual world for almost two months a year, but very seldom photographed. I saw that the distance between the real and the idealized Christmas is huge. Some will call these images cynical. I call them realistic. Some will call them ironic. I call them subjective. One thing is sure, they are photographed with love. Because this is also my Christmas. I love Christmas. The traditions. The solemnly feeling. The food. The rain and the eight degrees Celsius outside. I am touched by toilet roll Santas. I cry a tear when singing Christmas songs. Every year. This project came out as a book called “Deilig er Jorden”(“Delicious is the Earth”) in 2018 by Flamme publishing house. The book and project contain 90 images about Christmas, dating from 2013-2018. This project is alive and kicking on Facebook and Instagram. Santa Skodvin is busy every December shooting new images. Ho Ho Ho!!
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