Ignacio Vidal-Folch had Lars Bang Larsen and Great Danes drunk, short book about the idiosyncrasies of Denmark and its Nordic neighbors, that Norway had always been considered the poor cousin, something vulgar yokel and Scandinavia. And that image is maintained today, although from the feverish envy which forced the discovery of oil in the North Sea. Norway, its meteoric success, is a before and after the arrival of the oil.
Thus, Norway had grown from a cluster of shepherds and fishermen scattered dark immensity of the Scandinavian mountains to become the role model in the European continent, the model par excellence of social democracy and the welfare state. When Norway was met with huge oil reserves in its territorial domains, the country went from being one of the poorest in Europe the more equal, the least corrupt and that consistently, best score points in every club and rankings progress of the world.
This evolution has also been reflected over the images are taken from the country. Fortunately, the dark past of Norway as a country to the tail of the continent and despised by provincial, for the most cosmopolitan Denmark and Sweden, was immortalized through photography. And it is somewhat exciting way to see how Norway from its tiny villages made of wood, has transformed itself while remaining Norway in all its expression.
The Atlantic gathered yesterday ‘s photographic archive Tilbakeblikk, project carried out by the Institute of Forests and Landscapes of Norway and Norsk Folkemuseum. Both institutions have collected different images of Norway both in the early twentieth century as today, through some other dating to the middle of last century. They are taken at the same locations, so that allows us to see how the country has changed over time, and how the influence of oil has been instrumental in the modernization and progress of the state.
In Tilbakeblikk website you can explore the entire photographic archive. Here we have only selected few. Overall, they show remarkable changes, but not drastic. Norway, one belonging to Sweden ancient country that regained its independence until the early nineteenth century, is strongly nationalistic. And the Norwegians like to see their identity reflected in their traditions and their landscapes, still immaculate. Hence the urban transformation of the country has been modest, at least compared to other European counterparts.
Danes and Swedes still observe with pride to Norwegians, cousins (new) rich whose traditional roots are still very present in the daily life of the country, as it reflects Dan Elloway in The Xenophobe’s Guide to the Norwegians. Nevertheless, the images of this defined Norway as a modern and healthy, beautiful and wealthy state. A sort of idyllic arcadia where they shake the best of the past (the rural landscape, folklore) and present (prosperity).