Sami women can be sexy too: photographer

Norwegian photographer Iris Egilsdatter is challenging shopworn stereotypes with her exhibition in Oslo looking at Sami women’s strength and sexuality.

Sami women can be sexy too: photographer
Photo: Iris Egilsdatter

Coming from a Sami background herself, the 32-year-old student from Varangerbotn in the far north of the country has seen first-hand the conservative impulses she feels have held back women in the indigenous population.

“Like anywhere else, people will watch Lady Gaga and like what they see. But if one of us acts in the same way we’ll get in trouble,” Egilsdatter told The Local.

“I think that’s true of Norway in general, but even more so in the Sami community.”

Egilsdatter’s pictures form part of the “Shameless” project, an exhibition of works from 37 students at the Bilder Nordic School of Photography.

“People have been really amazed by my pictures. The models and I are really proud of how relaxed and comfortable they look.”

Possibly fearing the reactions from friends and family, three of the women she photographed asked not to be included in the exhibition. But for 14 others, including Sami politician Heidi Persdatter Greiner Haaker, the experience has proved something of a revelation.

“I have to say I was deeply torn over whether I should be involved in this. After seeing the exhibition, I’m really glad I did it,” the 46-year-old member of the Sami parliament wrote on her blog.

Egilsdatter said the project remains a work in progress. She has ten more women lined up for photo shoots at Easter and is planning to present a broader cross-section of her work at further exhibitions later in the year.

“This is just a handful of the ladies. There’s a lot more to come. So, for example, there will also be images of women masturbating. I want to bring in wider aspects of sexuality.”  

After seven years as a hair and makeup artist – “I hated it” – Egilsdatter realized she wanted to find an outlet for her creative and ideological sides.

“One day I picked up a camera and immediately thought: wow, this is what I need to be doing.”

While conceding that hardline Christian conservatism once fulfilled an important function in a Sami community ravaged by alcoholism, Egilsdatter now believes it’s high time for a change.

“Being conservative is just another way of looking down on people. Modern women have birth control, good healthcare, and don’t need to be protected by an outdated moral code.”

She also hoped the exhibition would serve as an eye-opener for Norwegians with a prejudiced view of Sami life.

“We’re often accused of just taking, taking, taking, and giving nothing back. It’s quite a racist point of view. People will feel sorry for the American Indians without realizing that the situation is the same in Norway today.”

Iris Egilsdatter’s exhibition runs at Møllergata 3 in Oslo until March 24th. See more images here.

Iris Egilsdatter (Photo: Simen Øvergård)

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Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday

Found out what’s going on in Norway on Tuesday with the Local’s short roundup of important news.

Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
The northern lights in Tromsø. Photo by Lightscape on Unsplash

One in ten international students in Norway has had Covid-19

Ten percent of overseas students studying in Norway, compared to just 2.9 percent of Norwegian students, have had Covid-19, according to the Students Health and Well Being Survey (SHoT).

Some 62,000 thousand of Norway’s 300,000 students responded to the survey.

READ MORE: Are Norway’s Covid-19 numbers on track for reopening?

Overall, nearly three percent said that they been infected with the Coronavirus, just over half have had to self isolate, and 70 percent took tests.

Woman in her 40’s charged with murder

A woman has been charged with murder in Halden, southeast Norway after a body was found in an apartment in the towns centre.

She will be questioned on Tuesday. A public defender has been appointed. 

Six police cars attended the scene at a small housing association in the centre of Halden.

A person found in the same apartment is being questioned as a witness.

Network provider Telenor’s revenues down 2.1 billion kroner compared to last year

Telenor’s revenues are down 2.1 billion in the first quarter and the company has written of its 6.5 billion kroner investment in Myanmar following Februarys military coup.

The mobile network operator became one of the first foreign providers in the country and had gained a 35 percent market share.

However, the country’s new military regime shut down the mobile network on March 15th.

“In Myanmar, we are experiencing a confusing and uncertain situation. We are deeply concerned about the development in the country,” The company stated in its quarterly report.

Norway and Sweden in reindeer border dispute

Swedish Sami reindeer herders will appear in court this week in a case against the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

The Swedish Sami herders believe they have exclusive rights to grazing areas across the Norwegian border because they have lived in the surrounding area for hundreds of years. The Norwegian government rejects these claims.

The reindeer grazing convention will be central to the case; the convention facilitates mutual cross-border grazing for reindeer herds.

Sweden withdrew from the convention in 2005. However, Norway enshrined the convention in law in 2005.

483 Coronavirus infections recorded

On Monday, 483 new cases of Covid-29 were registered, an increase of 75 compared to the average of the previous week.

READ ALSO: Norway considers lifting measures for people who have had their first Covid vaccine 

This is down from 1150 cases registered during the peak of Norway’s third wave on March 16th.

This is partly because fewer infections are registered during weekends and public holidays, causing an uptick on Mondays.