If you try to translate the phrase it would sound something like: The art of never fitting in. I sure feel I've never fit in, any place and any time.
I started this project because after moving to Norway I was explained that many people still live following the so called "Law of Jante", maybe even unintentionally.
It's a law about being together against the different, even if many has interpretated it as a kind of social law. No one should believe they're better than others, and it could sound cool.
I've come to a different interpretation, though and I'm pretty sure that's the real meaning behind the words of Sandemose, the writer who described the unwritten law in his novel En flyktning krysser sitt spor.
When I moved to Norway I didn't quite know what to expect. I had been here on vacation, and I had a feeling that people were nice and not afraid of people coming from other countries. I moved inn with a friend who eventually became my husband, and he was terrified by my attitude. He then explained me the Law of Jante, he told me that if I continued showing myself with my stupid exaggerated hats, and my gipsy jewelries I would never make new friends, because I shouldn't believe I was something.
I then tried to be invisible, to satisfy him and the distorted image of norwegian people he had painted into my head, but I deeply inside didn't quite manage to accept I was acting like I was someone else.
I used to have many friends back in Italy, but in Norway it seemed to be very difficult to get known with other people, and he pointed that I could not just say what I ment, if I wanted to be accepted: I was scaring people away.
It went some years before I understood that he was the one who was broken by the Law of Jante, and he was trying to break me down, to make me fit in. But I didn't want that! I have to thank my first real friend in Norway for that, Tone Susann. She never judged me, she never criticized me or my way of being. She accepted me with all my wrong, twisted sides, and she opene up my eyes. She took time to explain me things, to show me Norway and norwegian people for what they really are and I liked to listen to her point of view about things. I didn't always share the same point of view, but she made me think about things, she made me wonder. She made me in some way find back to my original me.
I had never fought to fit in in my youth, I've actually never cared about fitting in. If people couldn't just take me as I was, they could as well go to hell. They weren't worth it.
So I thought about saying it loud: I hate this Law! The Law of Jante is shit!
|Tone Susann - one of my models, and my best friend|
I have been thinking about this photoproject for a very long time. My ex husband was afraid I would have gathered some enemies by expressing my opinion about this old and retrograde law, and sometimes I cought myself pondering.
Was I ready to say it loud? Was I afraid I would have been attacked by people who still hung on in a nostalgic way to this old way of thinking?
Was I strong enough to take the critics which eventually was coming my way?
The answers to all these questions came when I finally break free from that psychological cage. I didn't need to follow that rule anymore: I was free!
When I published my call for models I was overwhelmed by how many wanted to tell me their stories. The Law of Jante had influenced someone in a very hard way, while someone else had just danced themselves over it. It has been some exciting months, I've been talking to those who wanted to cohoperate with me and I've been shooting pictures of them, which we carefully planned. We chose the locations, we chose the clothes, we chose the feeling we wanted to share with the viewer. We laughed a lot, sometimes we cried too, we felt it on our skin, and it wasn't always pretty.
Now the exhibition is ready, and I want to share it with you.
Opening day will be the 14th of september, at my sweet, little atelier in Fredrikstad and I'm very excited.
- The event on the program for the Culture Night in Fredrikstad: Kulturnatt
- The event on facebook: Facebook
- My photography website: Gentili Photo